Leading CJP's Annual Campaign is no easy feat — and that’s during relatively calm times. The current climate we live in is tumultuous, making the jobs of the Co-chairs that much more difficult. However, Kim Creem and David Adler are up to the task. We caught up with Kim and David for their insights into the strengths of our community, the challenges we face, and how CJP is uniquely positioned to meet this moment.
What brought you both to CJP? Tell us about the leadership that led you here.
David: Through my work with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland (JFC), I experienced the power and effectiveness of federated giving; I advanced my passion to help the Jewish People; I was mentored by amazing leaders; I worked with a wonderful professional staff; and I chaired the JFC’s Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs and its Development Committee, among other leadership roles. So, when my wife Hedy and I moved to the Greater Boston area from the suburbs of Cleveland in July 2019, one of the first meetings I arranged here was with Marc Baker to ask him “How can I serve CJP and the Boston Jewish community?” Although I had changed geography, I wanted to continue to serve the Jewish People — wherever I was.
Kim: I started volunteering with CJP almost 35 years ago when I returned to Boston after college. I wanted to meet other young Jewish people engaged in the community, and I thought volunteering with CJP would help. After joining the Gala Committee as my first entrée — I realize that I’ve come a long way in 35 years! — I joined the Young Leadership Division Board soon thereafter, was part of Kadimah and LEAD, chaired the Ben Gurion Society, and many other committees and events along the way. I was thrilled to be a part of The Cynthia and Leon Shulman Acharai Leadership Program. Now, being Co-chair of the Annual Campaign (AC), I could not be happier to be so engaged and involved in the strategy and work of helping to keep our Jewish community strong and vibrant.
Why do you believe in CJP? What separates CJP from other philanthropic organizations?
Kim: CJP is the organization for the Jewish community in Boston. It’s engaging, inclusive, strategic, and thoughtful in how it operates, how it works with its partner organizations, and how it works with its lay leaders and donors.
David: Over the past four years, I’ve gotten to know CJP well, and it has everything I wanted — talented and committed professional leadership; smart, strategic, and wonderful lay leaders; and a vision for a healthy, thriving Jewish community here in Greater Boston, in Israel, and around the world. CJP takes responsibility for the Jewish community and is uniquely positioned to see the needs, where they are met, and the gaps — working with other organizations to fill those gaps.
What do you think will be your biggest challenges in this role? How will you address them?
David: One of the greatest challenges is breaking the perception that federated giving is old school —that nowadays it’s more rewarding to give directly to a singularly focused charity because you can have more say about what your dollars are used for. Second, and this is perhaps the biggest challenge for the Jewish people as a whole, is that younger (and some older) donors are uncomfortable with the particularism of giving Jewishly. To address these challenges, I want to engage directly with donors and potential donors — listen to them, share my perspective, and show how CJP is engaged in addressing these issues through its unparalleled understanding of the needs in our community, through its grant-making strategies and investment priorities, and through programming that is both particular and universal.
Kim: The biggest challenge is trying to involve a greater number of the Jewish community in our fundraising. Trying to increase the number of donors involved with the campaign — even the smallest donors, would make a huge difference to me. Additionally, trying to raise funds for the AC after Boston had such an amazing Israel Emergency Fund campaign will be challenging. It’s our job as Co-chairs to help the community understand that it’s because of this strong foundation that we have with the AC that allows CJP to open emergency funds such as those for COVID-19, Ukraine, and Israel. The AC is what takes care of our community, keeping it engaged, providing safety and support for those in need.
How do you hope to engage the next generation in philanthropy with CJP?
Kim: The next generation donors will need to see the impact of our work, more so than our traditional, long-time donors. Providing them with engagement opportunities, clarity on the details of our work and impact of our grants, and strong education and transparency into our decision-making process will hopefully help us to maintain relationships with our younger, next generation donors.
David: Through my service as a Co-chair of CJP’s Hineni Volunteer Network, I’ve seen that Greater Boston is very fortunate to have so many young adults who want to give back in the Jewish community. My hope is to meet this next generation where they are on their own Jewish journeys, and both teach them about CJP and understand their views and perceptions. And I plan to ask them to give to CJP, consistent with their resources, and talk to them about why their investment in CJP is worthwhile.
Why do you feel it’s important to give Jewishly, especially now, among the rise of antisemitism and anti-Zionism?
David: I don’t see any distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. To me, they are one in the same. And I don’t think there’s actually been a rise in antisemitism — I just think it’s become acceptable to show it, but giving Jewishly is important no matter the climate. That’s because the Jewish People are such a tiny minority who have always had to look after one another when no one else has. Even more so, giving Jewishly isn’t just about taking care of each other — it’s about nurturing Jewish identify; it’s about Jewish continuity; it’s about protecting the Jewish future. And these are important to me because I believe the Jewish people have a role in history, to be a light unto the nations, and if we don’t protect the Jewish future, that light will extinguish.
Kim: My goal, and why I volunteer so heavily in the Jewish community (CJP, Jewish Family & Children Service, Jewish Vocational Service, Mayyim Hayyim, Temple Emanuel), is to always have a strong community for my children, grandchildren, and all future generations. Keeping our foundation strong allows us to react quickly to emergencies both here and abroad — whether it be antisemitism or a war in Israel.
One area of expertise you bring the role
Two ideas to help us create a thriving Jewish future
- Promote the importance of the Annual Campaign
- Establish a center for Jewish dialog, so we can tone down the divisiveness and truly listen to and learn from one another
- Stress the importance that no gift is too small
- Make time for outreach after every event
Three words you’d use to describe CJP
I’m the youngest of four children. My wife Hedy and I have three adult children (Josh, Rachel, and Sarah), two of whom are married (Rachel to Alex) or soon to be married (Sarah to Ben). We have 13 nieces and nephews and eight grandnieces and grandnephews.
Three dogs, all named for Ohio State Buckeyes (as were all of our previous dogs).
- Favorite food
- CJP impact area closest to your heart
Caring for the vulnerable in Great Boston, Israel, and around the world
My husband of 24 years, Gary, and I have two children, a 21-year-old son, Jacob, who is a senior at Washington University and a 19-year-old daughter, Lily, who is a sophomore at Washington University.
A 12-year-old Labradoodle, Charlie
Volunteering in the Jewish community, NYTimes Spelling bee, Wordle, Scrabble, working out
- CJP impact area closest to your heart
Caring for the vulnerable and the elderly and mental health work