05/20/2016

My #JewishCleveland: Kerry Kertesz

Tags: Federation, Blog, Young Adult

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Kerry Kertesz (second from right) at the YLD Big Event.

Hi, my name is Kerry Kertesz and Jewish Cleveland is my home. I grew up here, attending Camp Wise and going to Hebrew school at Park Synagogue. These childhood experiences helped me build my identity, and here – in Jewish Cleveland – I learned to be proud of who I was and my Jewish heritage.

Then I left to attend college in the South, where there weren’t many Jews. I loved Charleston but things were very different there. Many people had never met a Jew. Not realizing I was Jewish, they made fun of us. When I told them I was they couldn't understand why my appearance didn’t meet the stereotypes.

I missed being part of a strong, close knit community like Cleveland that I took for granted growing up. On returning, I felt the need to reconnect with my community and started volunteering.

I met Daryl, my husband, who introduced me to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Young Leadership Division (YLD). We took part in YLD’s social events like Summer Soirée that brings together hundreds of young Jewish Clevelanders each year, in partnership with JCLE.

It was the most amazing experience! It was so exciting to meet other young adults like me who were passionate about the Jewish community. Our friendships grew. We volunteered and participated in leadership programs together, and we became part of planning for our community’s future.

I’ve been so fortunate to have these incredible opportunities. I helped launch the Big Event, YLD’s signature fundraising event, where young Jewish Clevelanders come together each year to celebrate our community and our campaign. Today, I’m part of Coaching Circles, a peer-based mentoring program for women in our community and an initiative of Women’s Philanthropy. I also sit on the Community Relations Committee (CRC), helping ensure that we have a just, democratic, and pluralistic American society. And all this is through the Federation.

It’s my honor to give back to the place that has given me so much. Because if not me, then who?

Kerry Kertesz has been an active volunteer in the Jewish Cleveland community for over ten years. In 2015, Kerry served as the YLD Campaign co-chair for the 2016 Campaign for Jewish Needs, helping raise over $500,000 from more than 1,200 young adults. Currently, she is the Women’s Philanthropy representative on the Federation’s Allocations Committee. In the past, Kerry has served as the chair of the Ben-Gurion Society, which empowers young adults to combine their knowledge, passion, and resources to build a stronger Jewish community in Cleveland, Israel, and around the world. Kerry is also a dedicated volunteer at Montefiore and ORT, Federation partner agencies, and was recently nominated to the board of Park Synagogue.

To get involved with the Young Leadership Division or learn more about its programs and initiatives, contact Jessie Bruder at jbruder@jcfcleve.org or 216-593-2869.


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