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  • I couldn’t say, “No” to Rabbi Schwab

    Jun 19,2015


    Here’s Rabbi Schwab graciously accepting his gift

    Some may think that Annual Meetings are just a formality.  It is a requirement by law that nonprofits must host one.  Yes, these regulations serve a purpose; they keep us accountable to the stake holders.  But in the case of Annual Meetings at Jewish Family Service, we like to make it worthwhile.  It was a “no brainer” as to who to honor this year.  Rabbi Joel Schwab is retiring this summer.  He was the inspiration behind JFS over 31 years ago.  Many organizations and agencies have honored him of late.  It is no surprise.  He has shared his visions and put them into action throughout the Orange County community.  We knew that he’d be recognized at one ceremony after another.  At JFS, we decided to express our gratitude in a unique way.

    We formed a human timeline.  People since before the inception JFS came to speak (one even by video).  They offered pearls; the gifts that Rabbi Schwab shared with Jewish Family Service.  Stories were told about the programs he initiated, the fundraisers he enjoyed (did you know that he is an amazing Black Jack dealer?) and his role as the moral compass that he’s served our agency.  To share each era from which the person spoke, a logo of JFS (or prior to JFS, the Federation’s logo) was in view.

    In hearing each person’s story, an interesting theme emerged.  In order to get a job done (whether it be making phone calls, joining a committee, a board, an agency, etc.), Rabbi Schwab would ask people directly to step up to the task.  Time and time again, each person offered that they really had no choice, because, “I couldn’t say ‘no’ to Rabbi Schwab”.  On cue, the audience chimed in.  There were a lot of laughs to be had.

    True to JFS style, rather than gifting him with another plaque or trophy (we know he’s downsizing), he was thrilled to receive a family gift pass to the Liberty Science Center.  In his retirement, he and his wife, Aviva will be spending time with their grandchildren.  During his acceptance speech, he shared with the crowd that in part, helping to start JFS was somewhat self-serving.  Many congregants would go to him looking for help.  He co-created an agency that could offer services; ways of offering support that he was too stretched to do.  He’s pleased that 31 years later, we are still at it and offering more and more with the passage of time.

    If you have a story to share with Rabbi Schwab, please find some time to do so.  If you’d like a copy of our Annual Report, kindly send me an email.  And I hope to see you next year; we’ll share some more laughs!