My #JewishCleveland: Donny Zigdon

Tags: Federation, Blog, Young Adult

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Being part of Jewish Cleveland is special. It’s like nowhere else. No matter what stage of life you’re in, the Federation is here to support you. And I’m not just saying that, I speak from personal experience.

I grew up in Cleveland. I attended The Hebrew Academy – which was the first day school in the country to be supported by any Federation. My school instilled a love for Torah and Israel in me so strong that I was inspired to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Talmudic Law in Israel.

My parents in conjunction with the Cleveland Federation taught me the importance of caring for others and being a Baal Chesed, a person whose core being is kindness. Teenagers, from the Federation’s student exchange program with Cleveland’s sister city Beit Shean, were among the multitude of people who lived with us in our home for various periods of time. Later, I was a Saltzman Youth Panel participant with my teenage peers and together we were asked to allocate funds to the causes that mattered most to us. It was a tremendous lesson in compromise and idea exchange and understanding how non-profits work.

These experiences were transformative. They shaped me as a person.

Time moved quickly. Before I knew it, I was married with kids, and buying a business. I reconnected with Federation through the Young Leadership Division (YLD) and met other young Jewish Clevelanders like me. We were of the same age range, cared deeply about our community and our religion. We shared similar interests, building our leadership skills, growing together, and creating deep, meaningful, lasting, friendships.

I had the opportunity to participate in LEADS (Leadership, Education, And Development Series) – YLD’s flagship leadership development program. This fostered my leadership skills as a professional and volunteer through networking with senior leaders. It was an amazing experience that led to me being named to the YLD Board, helping drive YLD activity in our three core areas of engagement, leadership development, and philanthropy.

The people I have met, the causes we support, the connections I feel to this community are something that gives me a feeling I can’t quite describe as anything other than “special.” Being part of this community and participating in this community is special.

I found my role in helping making this world a better place and I thank Federation for each and every opportunity that’s enabled me to help build something so special – our Jewish community.

To learn more or get involved in the Young Leadership Division, contact Jessie Bruder at jbruder@jcfcleve.org or 216-593-2869.

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