Danielle Minson — How You Help
Jewish Federation Announces Start of 2018 Community Campaign with Goal of Everyone Engaged
Ronna Schneider begins her year as Community Campaign Chair
On January 25 at a campaign briefing, Ronna Schneider, incoming Chair for the Community portion of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s Annual Campaign, announced the launch of the Community Campaign phase. Along with 2018 Campaign Cochairs Debbie Brant and Gary Greenberg, Schneider will lead a team of over 60 volunteers who are committed to helping the Federation raise its 2018 goal of $5.6 million. Taking this community-driven process to the next level, another group of 100 volunteers will then carefully decide how to distribute the funds, always seeking to give where it will do the most good, locally and abroad.
The Jewish Federation also announced that Sarah Wise will continue as chair of Women’s Philanthropy, and Brooke Guigui will continue as chair of the YAD (Young Adult Division) board.
Ronna Schneider, her husband Ben, and their four teenage children live in Amberley and are members of Congregation Sha’arei Torah. Schneider is a pediatrician with Suburban Pediatric Associates. I sat down with her afterward to learn more about her.
Danielle Minson: What inspired you to make the commitment to become Community Campaign Chair?
Ronna Schneider: I believe it’s important to give back to the community. I feel so lucky to live in Cincinnati where this community has already been built for me and my children, and I want to make sure that this community will still be here for my grandchildren, and everybody’s grandchildren.
Minson: Can you talk about your connections to Jewish Cincinnati?
Schneider: Sure. I was brought up in Cincinnati, I grew up here, very close to Amberley, and I feel very fortunate that I was able to be a member of Northern Hills Synagogue, be a member of the JCC, attend Camp Livingston, visit Israel with a grant from the Jewish Federation, and chaperone March of the Living several years later. We also belong to a synagogue [Sha’arei Torah] now. My children attended Rockwern. I’ve been involved with Jewish Federation for many years, and I personally have seen the needs of the people in our community and around the world. I feel it’s extremely important to not stay in a silo, not just focus on your own life and your own family, but to think about people outside your family and outside your very intense community, and help them as well.
Minson: Can you tell us about your family?
Schneider: I’m married to Ben Schneider, we’ve been married for 23 years this year. We have four children, all teenagers [laughs]. My kids are very active, they’re active in the Jewish community, they’re active in their school, and in sports. We’re a very busy family, we travel a lot, we’ve been to Israel this year. We try to keep them connected to the Jewish community as best we can.
Minson: How did you first become involved in Federation?
Schneider: Originally? I was asked, probably about 20 years ago, to sit on a women’s board, where we learned about the local groups and partner agencies. The culminating trip was a trip to see Jewish life in New York. It was a great entryway not only to Jewish Federation, but meeting the women—some of those women I am still friends with today. That’s the very beginning.
Minson: What are your goals for the Community Campaign?
Schneider: I would love to have everyone in the community involved. Whether it’s volunteering at Super Sunday, making phone calls, involving new solicitors in our community, hoping to reach out to hundreds of new people to be able to educate them about Federation, and hopefully ask them to donate to our Campaign.
Minson: Why is the Campaign important?
Schneider: We need to provide for our community and for the needy in our community, and support our partner agencies here in Cincinnati. And we need to support needy Jews around the world and in Israel.
Minson: When you imagine the impact of those dollars, does a specific story come to mind?
Schneider: Yes, I have many! But here’s one: I know a friend’s daughter who is Jewish, who knew nothing about her heritage or about being Jewish. She was having a little bit of a rough time. We had a long talk, and I suggested that she should apply for a grant through the Jewish Federation [paid for by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati] to go to Israel. And she took advantage of it, and went to Poland and Israel and had the time of her life. It’s made a huge difference: she’s come out of her shell, has now made friends all over the world. She credits it all to the Jewish Federation.
Minson: Is there a specific moment that epitomizes the work of Federation for you?
Schneider: That moment for me is when I learned about my father’s journey from Greece to the United States when he was five years old. When he came to Cincinnati Jewish Family Service, a partner agency of Jewish Federation, helped support his family, helped my grandfather find a job, and helped his family find an apartment and old clothes. It really got them on their feet, when they came from Greece with absolutely nothing. And my father was able to raise us in a very supportive community. So now I feel so lucky that I’ve had such amazing opportunities, because of that [smiles]. Now I can give back to the community that I was raised in and that I love.
The Federation’s Community Campaign raises money that is then distributed—through a collaborative, volunteer-driven process—to help our most vulnerable, energize Jewish life, nurture connections with Israel, and protect Jewish security worldwide.
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