Mickey Lebowitz appointed Jewish Community Ambassador

By Bette Siegel

05-Lebowitz, Mickey - 2016At its January 11 meeting, the board of the Jewish Federation of Central New York created the position of Jewish community ambassador.

President/CEO of the Federation MICHAEL BALANOFF, said “Mickey Lebowitz will be the Community Ambassador. He will accentuate all that is good about the Central New York Jewish Community.”  As the Jewish community ambassador, Lebowitz said he sees the position as that of a “point person for all things Jewish in CNY.” In collaboration with existing Jewish agencies and leaders, he will welcome new Jewish singles and families into the community, as well as “develop relationships and educate our new friends” about which organizations and services (Jewish as well as non-Jewish) are available to them so they can fully integrate into the local community.

LEBOWITZ is an endocrinologist by training and has served in many positions, including volunteer positions within the local Jewish community. He is a past president of Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas, as well as a member and vice president of the congregation’s Ritual Committee.

He has served in various positions on the Syracuse Hebrew Day School Board since 1996, including as board president and vice president. In what turns out to be a pattern, he has been instrumental in various strategic planning initiatives in the Syracuse Jewish community: as chairman of the SHDS Long Range Planning Committee; founder and organizer of Federation’s Council of Jewish Organizations (CoJO) since 2015; and vice chair of Federation’s Strategic Planning Committee since 2017.

When the current position was developed, it was assumed that the chosen candidate would have an “excellent understanding and knowledge” of local Jewish organizations, as well as “broad local Jewish community service experiences with organizations and people.” A primary trait was that the ambassador be “a mature individual with a track record of getting things done in their professional life and as a community volunteer.”

Lebowitz said he views the position as a way to try to “reverse the negative demographic trends in the area” and “looks forward to fostering relationships” with Jews already in the community, as well as newcomers, to help engage and educate them about all that our Jewish community has to offer.” Additionally, by working with existing agencies and leaders and acting on existing and new ideas, he hopes to “develop a foundation for a thriving, growing, prospering Jewish community for the future.”

Part of his job will be to help develop networks and strategies with community business leaders to offer and advertise jobs to bring in people. In short, as the CNY community grows, the hope is that the number of Jewish people coming to the area will also grow.

Lebowitz will report, collaborate, coordinate and work under the direction and general supervision of the Federation CEO.

The overall objectives of the position include working on two tracks to enhance affiliations with our organizations. This means that he will engage and integrate current Jewish residents who have no affiliation with the Jewish community and attract, welcome and integrate new people to the community. The ambassador’s ultimate goal is to strengthen the future of the Jewish community.

Lebowitz may work with CenterState CEO, other CNY business and political leaders, or CNY job recruiters; or he may develop and manage internal and external plans for marketing, communication, public and community relations; research case study examples from other Jewish communities in similar circumstances; be an advocate for and extol the virtues of the community institutions and engage or work with various constituencies of the local Jewish community (e.g. young leadership, Hazak, Syracuse University or State University of New York Upstate Medical University) to achieve the strategic goals of the Jewish community. 

Lebowitz’s position will be approximately eight hours a week working as an independent contractor for the Jewish Federation of CNY. He will regularly and routinely report, coordinate, collaborate and be under the overall supervision and direction of Federation’s president/CEO. He will work in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of CNY board and its subcommittees, including the Long-Range Planning Committee, and CoJO (Council of Jewish Organizations), which may function as an informal advisory body.

The position differs from that of Federation’s Community Concierge, a position held by Jacki Goldberg since spring 2015. Goldberg welcomes Jewish people new to Syracuse and the surrounding area with local information and a gift basket. In her official position as Community Concierge, her first responsibility is to deliver these baskets to newcomers as part of the “Shalom Syracuse” program. In addition, she often gets to know them socially, guiding through the day-to-day problems that any newcomer to a community may encounter.


<pstyle:caption>Mickey Lebowitz is Federation’s new Jewish community ambassador.