Day 97: Humans of UJA – Jeff Bernstein

As part of our Centennial Campaign year, we are spending some time spotlighting donors in our community.  Check back every Saturday night after Shabbat ends to see who we are profiling.  Meet Jeff Bernstein.


Who are you?

Hi, I’m Jeff! Some of the hats I wear on any given day are: husband to Dani, new dad to Fox (and super excited about it), sidekick to our husky-shepherd dog, Nash, community volunteer, board member, advocate for people with differences, occasional triathlete, insurance planner.

What do you do?

My personal mission is to help others excel wherever possible. Professionally, I do this as an independent insurance planner by working with families, professionals, and entrepreneurs to help people create strategies for getting ahead and taking care of those about whom they care most. In addition to being meaningful work, my profession helps to facilitate my passion for finding new ways to help people solve problems that matter. So whether that’s through delivering better governance as a board member of Autism Ontario, by facilitating a healthy and rewarding life for my brother, Alan – a person with special needs, or as a community volunteer and fundraiser for UJA and its partner organizations, I consider myself to be extremely fortunate. 

What is important about being Jewish in Toronto?

The hardest thing about being Jewish in Toronto is deciding where to invest one’s time and energies (and, let’s be honest, funds). While far from perfect, we are blessed to live in a community that has something to offer everyone – whether your passion for being Jewish is rooted in culture, education, entrepreneurship, food, the environment, political activism, or organized religion. The options for engagement are, literally, overwhelming. Because people around the world have fought and died – and continue, in grave numbers, to do so – for these rights and opportunities which we all, no matter how engaged, take for granted, ‘showing up’, to me, is the very least we can do. You’re likely even to discover just how rewarding this engagement and participation can be.

Why is it important to make a gift to the community through UJA?

What most impresses me about UJA is its role as ‘force multiplier’, strategically turning every dollar donated to and raised by the organization into another four for our community – I know first hand that UJA is able to leverage every donor dollar to raise an additional 57%. So, although my family still chooses to directly support several specific community organizations very close to our hearts, we know that our contribution to UJA is matched and allocated to meet the most urgent needs of those within our midst – something only an organization with the broad mandate and vision of the UJA can accomplish.

Which book are you reading right now?

When I’m not falling asleep, I’m alternating between Simon Sinek’s Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, and Dave Eggers’ new novel, Heroes of the Frontier.

What is your favourite weekend activity in Toronto?

Some combination of brunching with friends and then going for a walk with my family in tow through Cedarvale, our neighbourhood park.

Through UJA you can make the biggest impact on the issues you care about most. Make a gift to UJA today.

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