Reflecting on a 47-year career that includes the past five years directing the Israel Bonds Washington office before retiring this month, Jordan Harburger recalls an example of why he has dedicated his life to strengthening the Jewish community.
“One woman bought bonds for all her nieces and nephews and all of her grandchildren, and I helped her craft the letter — the note — that she was going to send to them telling them why she was doing this and why she hoped that they would continue to sustain their family’s connectedness to Israel,” he says.
“I feel very fulfilled for a lifelong career in Jewish communal service,” Harburger says. “Serving the Jewish community has been a very important part of my entire professional career and I’ve been rewarded by everything, all the lives I’ve been able to touch and all the people I’ve been able to help.”
Harburger, 68, was recently honored for his service to the Jewish community at B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, one of the many synagogues Harburger says he visited to make appeals for Israel bonds. During his tenure, he helped raise more than $120 million in investment capital for the State of Israel.
Last August, Harburger’s family experienced a tragedy when their eldest daughter, Neely Snyder, died in a car accident at the age of 37. Snyder was working as program director at the Pearlstone Center at the time of her death.
In January, Harburger and his wife, Sheila, sold their Gaithersburg home and moved to Owings Mills to be closer to their five grandchildren in the Baltimore area, including Snyder’s daughters. Her husband, Rabbi Joshua Snyder, is executive director of Goucher Hillel.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have Jody as my father-in-law for 14 years. He’s such a mensch,” says Snyder, using Harburger’s nickname. “He’s both been a mensch and a mentor to me both as a human being and as a Jewish professional. He’s someone who isn’t afraid to use his emotion to fuel the passion for his work.”
Born in New York City and raised in Fresno, Calif., Harburger attended UCLA and Hebrew Union College. He participated in a Reform movement summer camp in northern California where he says he met rabbis and Jewish educators who inspired him.
Before coming to Israel Bonds, Harburger was the endowment director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington for four years, building on his 30-plus years working for federations.
“Jody’s had a long career of devotion and dedication to the Jewish community worldwide,” says Snyder. “Every job he’s done, many of them have involved funds and fundraising, has really been toward the viewpoint of building the future of the Jewish people.”