Federation New Chair Zelman to Focus on Involvement, Education
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By Courtney Byrnes
Daniel N. Zelman, who has been serving the Cleveland Jewish community in numerous roles for the last few decades, was named the next board chair of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland for the 2022 to 2025 term June 22.
Zelman, 65, is the CEO of Paro Services Corp. in Twinsberg and will succeed J. David Heller, who has served as board chair since April 20, 2019.
“I really had a chance to learn firsthand what Federation does, because it’s a large, complicated organization, and I’ve worked with many of the staff and lay leaders that are involved with Federation,” Zelman told the Cleveland Jewish News. “And I think that those 20ish years of service have really prepared me for this.”
He has served the Federation on committees, including serving as the general campaign chair from 2015 to 2016 and as an officer of the board of trustees since 2013. He was a member of the inaugural class of Cleveland Jewish News 18 Difference Maker honorees in 2015.
In the greater Jewish community, Zelman recently completed a three-year term as chair of the Jewish Family Service Association of Cleveland board of trustees, where he continues to serve on several committees. He is also a board member of Jewish Federations of North America, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage and Menorah Park. In the broader community, Zelman is a board and committee member at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and recently concluded serving on the board of University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center.
A member of Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike, Zelman lives in Moreland Hills with his wife, Ellen. He said what sparks his and his family’s involvement in the community is the idea of Jewish continuity.
“The main reason that I’ve been as involved as I’ve been, and my family has been involved, is all behind Jewish continuity,” he said. “And I really think that Federation is sort of the backbone, the glue, of this great Jewish community we have here, and continuity of religion is really behind all aspects of what we do.”
While Heller’s term was characterized by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused interruptions and changes in meetings, events and travel, Zelman is looking forward to rekindling involvement and participation in the community and beyond through missions. One of the ways he wants to increase involvement and support is through educating the community on what exactly the Federation does.
“It’s long been my belief that when people really understand the depth and breadth of what Federation is involved in and how much good it does, that people when they understand it, I think it’s easier to get them to become supporters,” he said.
In just his first few weeks as board chair, the Federation is continuing to address the war in Ukraine and the potential resettlement of Ukrainian Jews in Cleveland, as well as the mission to help Ethiopian Jews make aliyah. Zelman also plans to focus on battling the rise in antisemitism and increasing support for Israel in the community. With a population study currently going on, he hopes the results of this will aid in determining other areas of focus.
“A lot of what a board chair does is to basically react to what’s happening in the world, in the Jewish world in Cleveland and beyond, and make sure that our Federation’s agencies and partners are responding to that and we’re supporting them where we can,” Zelman said.