For young Jewish leaders, jumping into philanthropic pool needn’t be a buzzkill

The Word of Mouth a cappella group performs on stage at the Howard Theater for Impact DC.Photo by Josh Marks
The Word of Mouth a cappella group performs on stage at the Howard Theater for Impact DC.
Photo by Josh Marks

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Young Leadership division raised $22,000 last Thursday night for the fifth annual Impact DC.

Around 350 young Jewish professionals paid $150 to hit the Howard Theater dance floor, mingle at the bar and munch on mini-burgers as local a cappella group Word of Mouth provided musical entertainment.

The price of admission was $50 along with a $100 donation to the Federation’s annual campaign, which, according to Young Leadership Director Sarah Arenstein, “allows for Federation to really take care of the community and make sure all the needs in the community are met.”

Calling the night the “signature” event on the Young Leadership calendar, Arenstein said Impact DC was started five years ago as a way to build a culture of giving among the next generation and inspire young people to give back.

Federation Account Executive Allison Cossman, who helped organize the event, said it started Impact DC because it noticed that young people were donating their time to volunteering in the community but not being philanthropic.

“The goal is to get people to care about philanthropy and to understand the meaning of giving, of giving to Jewish causes, of how one person can make a difference,” said Cossman. “It’s to inspire people. It’s to inspire them to first see what the Federation is doing that’s meaningful; to show how we’re helping the community and Israel and around the world; and to inspire them to stand up and to do something about it.”

But what about young Jewish adults who are working in low-income jobs and struggling financially?

“We don’t want to turn anyone away and for price to be a barrier for anyone,” said Arenstein. “If it’s really not affordable, we ask that people just make a donation of whatever is meaningful for them.”

Cossman added that if someone isn’t sure about attending Impact DC because of the high cost, he or she can call a Young Leadership associate and work something out on a case by case basis.

“I think it’s really important for the young Jewish professional community to come together and support the community as much as we can,” said attendee Ben Wacks, 29. The South Florida native and Washington resident added that it was also important “to have a good time.”

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