Did you know that there are Lions in L.A.? We’re not talking about those beautiful creatures at the zoo or the ones often spotted in the mountains of Griffith Park. We’re talking about some of our Federation’s most dedicated female philanthropists, the Lions of Judah.
Lions of Judah are women of all ages who have committed to making an individual annual gift of $5,000 or more to support the life-changing work of our Federation. In addition, Lions are often extremely active participants in Federation experiences, from our hands-on community service to our yearly missions to Israel and other international locales. Many of these women also serve as activists and leaders in philanthropic causes outside the Federation, in the Jewish community and beyond, using their influence to recruit others for support — and transforming lives in the process.
There are currently more than 900 Lions of Judah making an impact here in Los Angeles. And, while this number is impressive, L.A.’s Lions are part of a much larger international group. According to the Jewish Federations of North America, there are 17,500 Lions of Judah across the globe. Every two years, these dynamic women unite for an International Lion of Judah Conference where they are empowered and inspired by renowned speakers that share their expertise and unique perspectives on local and global Jewish issues.
It’s not hard to identify Lions of Judah at Federation gatherings. Each proudly wears a distinctive gold or platinum pin with a depiction of the Lion of Judah, a Jewish tribe that appears on Jerusalem’s coat of arms. The Lion of Judah symbolizes strength, courage and majesty, all traits that our L.A. Lions embody. Diamonds, rubies and other jewels can be added to the pin to mark an increased commitment to the Federation at the Ruby ($10,000), Chai ($18,000), Emerald ($25,000) and Zahav ($50,000) levels.
Being a Lion of Judah is about so much more than just standing out at a significant level of giving, however. Says Kathy Guccione, Co-Chair of Sylvia Weisz Women’s Philanthropy, “When a woman becomes a Lion, she is demonstrating her commitment to our work at home, in Israel and around the world.”
Co-Chair Debi Graboff also explains that “Lion of Judah offers women an opportunity to meet other women who are committed to tikkun olam and to ensuring the Jewish future. Lions are invited to attend a variety of Federation-sponsored events and opportunities designed to educate, inspire and raise awareness about global Jewish life and how their support touches lives in Los Angeles, Israel and more than 70 countries.“
One of the highlights of the year for Lions in L.A. is the annual Chai/Emerald/Zahav, Ruby and Lion of Judah Luncheon, a chance for women of all ages from both the City and Valley to gather, reconnect and learn about new Federation programs and initiatives. The luncheon also brings in world-class speakers and honors Lions who have taken their passion for and leadership within the Jewish community to a truly inspiring level. This year’s Lion of Judah Luncheon takes place on Wednesday, February 17th, and features keynote speaker Melissa Rivers. Attendees will also hear remarks from Lea Rabin Award Honoree Ada Horwich and Ruby Award Honoree Amy Masor.
Debi Graboff notes that, “while the luncheon spotlights friendship, camaraderie and philanthropy, being a Lion of Judah is a thoughtful, purposeful commitment. You feel a part of something bigger than yourself, with like-minded women who feel their purpose in life is to do good in the world.”
“When you attend an event with 400-plus Lions,” says Kathy Guccione, “you can’t help but feel the power of what being a Lion demonstrates — the true meaning of tzedakah! This is a room filled with women who have the determination, capability and power to take the dream and turn it into a reality. There is a sense of connectivity, and, with that, comes a major spark of energy that has the ability to improve and change Jewish lives worldwide. I want women to walk away feeling the power of what the Lion gift means to the Jewish world!”
If you are interested in becoming a Lion of Judah and would like to attend one of our upcoming outreach events on January 19th or 20th, please contact Jenna Fields at (818) 668-2340 or JFields@JewishLA.org for the Valley, or Karen Sternfeld at (323) 761-8275 or KSternfeld@JewishLA.org for the City.
Learn more or buy tickets for this year’s Chai/Emerald/Zahav, Ruby & Lion of Judah Luncheon.