“I felt that the time was right to give back to a community whose Jewish organizations have been an integral part of our family’s life, and that my business experience would lend itself well to this role,” said Debbie Rosenbaum, explaining the reason she accepted the position of Federation Campaign Chair for 2021/5781. “That, and a strong nudge from my husband,” she added, smiling.
Debbie is married to Neil Rosenbaum, the Federation’s new president. She met him on her first day of work at the Xerox Corporation in 1981. They were married three years later and settled in Syracuse where they raised their four children, all of whom attended the JCC preschool, graduated from the Syracuse Hebrew Day School and became b’nai mitzvah at Temple Adath Yeshurun. They also attended and worked at Camp Seneca Lake for many summers and, through the Birthright program, had the opportunity to spend part of a summer in Israel.
Debbie grew up in Rochester. Her father had escaped from Nazi Germany as a child and both of her parents were very involved in the Jewish community through roles at Temple Beth El, B’nai B’rith and Federation. As a youngster, she frequented the Rochester JCC, attended Hebrew school, became bat mitzvah at Temple Beth El and went to Camp Seneca Lake. In high school, she became involved with BBYO and spent a summer in Israel with Camp Ramah.
At Xerox, Debbie worked in a variety of ways—full-time, part-time and job-sharing—to accommodate a busy life and in a variety of positions in sales, management and marketing. In 2012, she was chosen by Xerox for their Social Service Leave program, which allowed her to work full time in the community for “Say Yes to Education,” helping to support its scholarship program, fundraise and oversee internship and apprenticeship programs.
Debbie feels a strong commitment to the Jewish Federation of Central New York. “As newcomers to the community many years ago, we were welcomed warmly and joined the Federation Young Leadership program,” she recalls. She became involved in the Women’s Leadership group, chaired Super Sunday and had the opportunity to attend a National Federation Conference. For the past two years, she has been a member of the Federation Campaign Cabinet. With this background, it is not surprising that she was asked to take on a leadership role at this particularly fraught time.
She recognizes the difficulty of fundraising during a pandemic, but says that it is her hope that, “through the generosity of our community, we can provide the agencies with the financial support they need.” It is important to her that “we better educate our donors as to what the needs of the community are” and “to reach out to those who have not previously been engaged to help them understand how the Federation may serve them.” She wants the community to know that the mission and vision of the Federation of Central New York are grounded in and guided by the Jewish values of Torah (Jewish learning), tzedakah (charity, respect, and social justice), tikkun olam (repairing the world), and l’dor v’dor (identity and continuity from generation to generation). “These values are eternal,” Debbie points out. “We will honor them and transmit them, no matter how challenging the present times.”