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350 gather for second annual Main Event with Mo Rocca

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Federation's second annual Main Event was a rousing success.

Nearly 350 gathered for an inspiring, festive reception for Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County’s second annual Main Event, the organization’s flagship philanthropic program, on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. CBS News Sunday Morning correspondent Mo Rocca was the featured speaker for the event. In addition, Federation presented its board chair, Arthur S. Loring, with the inaugural Jeanne Levy Community Leadership Award. The Main Event was chaired by Stacey and Steve Ellison.

The Main Event welcomed community members who donate $1,000 or more to Federation’s Annual Campaign. The Annual Campaign is Federation’s primary community-wide fundraising initiative that invests in life-changing programs and services to improve the quality of life for Jewish people locally, in Israel and in 70 countries around the world.


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“We all have a unique impact on the Jewish community through Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign. It’s about caring for the Jewish people and ensuring a safe and prosperous future,” said Steve Ellison, co-chair of The Main Event. “And it’s about the continuum of programs and services that care for those who are unable to care for themselves.”


Stacey and Steve Ellison also led attendees in a candle lighting ceremony to express solidarity with the global Jewish community in the wake of anti-Semitic violence in France, Denmark, Belgium and elsewhere, as well as victims of conflicts in Ukraine and Israel.

Andrew Comiter, Federation board member, highlighted the vital work of Federation through a personal story. Comiter explained that his positive experience attending Meyer Jewish Academy inspired him to become deeply involved in Jewish leadership programs in college. When he returned to Palm Beach County after college, Comiter became involved in the Jewish community as chairperson of Federation’s Emerging Leadership Project, later joining the agency’s Board of Directors and Annual Campaign Cabinet.


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“I understand that I was a beneficiary of Federation. I know, firsthand, how our Federation helps young families, children and teens through education, programs and scholarships,” said Comiter. “Now, as a donor to Federation, I see firsthand what happens when our community comes together to take action when Jewish people around the world are in crisis.”


Mark Levy, a past president of Federation, presented Arthur Loring with the inaugural Jeanne Levy Community Leadership Award. Named in honor of Levy’s mother Jeanne (z”l), the award was established to honor leaders whose dedication to building community is similar to that of the late Federation past president whose commitment and vision for the greater Palm Beaches created one of the largest and most vibrant Jewish communities in North America.

Loring was chosen as the award’s inaugural recipient due to his exceptional commitment to the Jewish community, spirit of generosity and enthusiastic leadership. In addition to serving as Federation’s board chair, Loring has committed himself to almost every vital facet of Jewish community life in the Palm Beaches. He has served as MorseLife’s chairman and as a board and committee member of Federation partners, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish Federations of North America.


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“It is a privilege and an honor to receive an award named for Jeanne Levy, a pioneer of our Jewish community. Jeanne was forward thinking, driven, wise and compassionate,” said Loring. “It’s leadership like this that should inspire us all to work to build our Jewish community – because when we work together, we accomplish more than any one person can on their own. With Federation, we have opportunities to be generous and so much more.”


Mo Rocca, the event’s featured speaker, shared his experiences with seniors he met while filming his Emmy-nominated series, My Grandmother’s Ravioli, on the Cooking Channel. He likened their strong sense of identity, family and community to Federation’s work to enrich Jewish life, care for vulnerable populations and build global Jewish community.

Rocca is a two-time Emmy Award-winning humorist, journalist and actor, best known for his off-beat news reports and satirical commentary. Rocca was a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and is a panelist on NPR’s hit weekly quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

Event co-chair Stacey Ellison acknowledged the event’s corporate sponsors: Bruce Gendelman Insurance Services, TD Bank, MBAF, Ciklin Lubitz Martens and O’Connell, Gratus Capital Management, G4S and Seligman Brand Strategies.

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