Friday, 23 February 2018 17:22

Arnie Fielkow: Federation serves Jewish and non-Jews in Greater New Orleans

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arnie1 weekendFor years, Arnie Fielkow was pitching New Orleans Saints to the State of Louisiana as its Executive Vice President. After Katrina, as the City Councilman, then the Council President, he was helping the city rebuild from disaster that devastated the lives of so many and the infrastructure that made New Orleans so special. In recent years, Fielkow, who is far from being short, lived among the real redwoods of the sporting world, running the very respected National Basketball Retired Players Association, leaving the city for Chicago.


Now, he is serving the Greater New Orleans Jewish Community as the President and CEO of the Jewish Federation, a major umbrella organization.

So what is the Jewish Federation? 

On Thursday, Alan Smason, the Publisher of the Crescent City Jewish News and I discussed the organization with Fielkow who explained its infrastructure and how it not only helps the Jewish segments of our community specifically but the broader non-Jewish population, too.

Fielkow made his remarks during a Facebook and Twitter Live conversation, coordinated by, with the assistance of Smason and the CCNJ.

Here is the transcript of part one of the interview and the video segment.  We will publish part two on Monday.

SMASON: Arnie, the main thing,  i wanted to get started, you've got a very important weekend coming up don't you?   Super Sunday?

FIELKOW: We do coming up by not this weekend but the weekend after this. It's kind of our marquee event for the raising of our funds for the annual campaign.  The Federation, it is, at it's very core we do a lot of things that we will probably talk about. But at it's very core the The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans is fund, is a fundraising organization and we raise money through our annual campaign and then those monies are distributed out into the community to service a wide variety of agencies thousands of people Jewish and non-jewish alike throughout the Greater New Orleans region.  So Super Sunday is kind of one of the--the major events as part of that annual fundraising drive and it raises a lot of money and it's very important to us so anybody that might be watching, you know, we would love to have you participate with us, our staff can assist on that, but in any event we, we felt very important we want to be highly successful at it.

SMASON: And again it's a big fundraising campaign but a lot of volunteers are involved with this--who your chairs for this year?  

FIELKOW: We have two tremendous chairs David Radauer, David was is retired law partner at Jones Walker and Julie Schwartz his wife.  We have a husband-and-wife team this year.  And they are just energetic, they're enthused, they're great advocates and in ambassadors for the organization.  The title of our theme of our campaign this year is Imagine More--which is just imagine as we continue to raise more money than what we've raced in the past-- how many people we can serve.  And at the end of the day really is about people.  We distribute money to agencies, but it's the people the agencies serve and the Federation serves that really our important.  

SABLUDOWSKY: Tell us more about the Federation.

FIELKOW: Yeah, so the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans has been around for well over a hundred years and we're really, I guess, the central umbrella organization for the Jewish community of Greater New Orleans.  But we cover our region, Jefferson Parish largely but really any parish from the North Shore to St. Bernard to Plaquemines.   I mean, all fall within our jurisdiction and we do again many things we have different programs going on in an organization, we have a tremendous "next-gen" program to develop the next generation of our leaders, we have a formal professional development program that brings and trains Future Leaders., Jewish and non-jewish into Greater New Orleans.  We take missions.  We've got some exciting missions hopefully we can talk about that'll be on the horizon in the future.  And we do fundraising and then obviously you've seen over the last couple months a lot of advocacy work.  Standing up for positions, public policy, legislative work, so we are, I guess, we're the equivalent of Catholic Charities in some ways, but we're the Jewish version of that.

The Jewish version of United Way perhaps.   and do a lot of social service supporting.

SMASON: And again could you touch a little bit on not just Federation but also the the constituent agencies because there are agencies such as the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana and other agencies like Hillel that are not part of Federation but they are sort of an extension of Federation, right?

FIELKOW: Yeah, so I would break it down, Alan, into kind of three categories:  The Jewish Endowment Foundation is actually a subsidiary of our of our organization corporately.  They are the own Board of Directors but the Jewish endowment Foundation is responsible for longer term giving, kind of Planned Giving.  We're responsible largely for year to year fundraising and giving.  So the two of us work together and we try to create endowments, we do gifts, we do, you know wills, annuities--things where people can leave their legacy into the community. Ours is more of an annual traditional giving fundraising campaign.  The second category is constituent agencies.  We have four constituent agencies we support--the Hillel at Tulane, the Jewish Community Day school, which is based here in Metairie, the JCC's--we have two Jewish community centers in New Orleans, one in uptown--which--if people haven't seen the new facility in Uptown, they need to get over there--it's magnificent.  There's a second facility here in in Metairie that we're housed out of. And then the fourth is Jewish Family Service which is a social agency, a service firm that does incredible things from literally birth to death, for people. 

And you know we fund and support all of those organizations.  I think one thing I would want to make note, is even though we are called the Jewish Federation, and even though some of the organizations, I just named, have the word Jewish in them, we actually serve a majority non Jewish population, with a couple of our agencies--Jewish Family Service, Jewish Community Center, in particular--when you look at who they service, who they help individually, the majority of that is non Jewish.

And we're trying to get that message out because I think it's very important that people understand that the money we raised and the and the efforts, we provide, our servicing not just a Jewish community but a community at whole. And then the third bucket is are called beneficiary agencies.  These are about a dozen agencies all across the New Orleans area from a group like Avodah, which came in after Katrina to Hadassah to National Council of Jewish women, which anybody in the political world knows how active they've been.  The Anti-Defamation League--I'm gonna leave some groups off, some smaller groups, as well ,but about a dozen or more agencies that we help support in some fashion, that are doing great work again overall in the community some exclusively Jewish but many of them Jewish and non-jewish.

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Stephen Sabludowsky | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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