Naomi Newman has spent much of her adult life dedicated to Jewish life and Jewish causes. She has brought passion to educating young people, bright ideas to building a strong, cohesive Jewish Puget Sound, and enormous energy to the hard work of community service.
For the powerful impact that she has made and continues to make, Naomi will receive the prestigious Althea Stroum Woman of Distinction Award at Connections, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s annual philanthropic gathering of Jewish women. The late philanthropists Althea and Samuel supported several Seattle Jewish institutions as well as local arts and education initiatives.
Naomi takes the long view for ensuring Jewish continuity — mindful of the past and optimistic and full of expansive ideas for the future.
“As the daughter of Jewish immigrants — one who narrowly fled Vienna on the heels of World War II, and my mother, who was a teenage Holocaust survivor — I feel that building community and contributing to its vibrancy and vitality is my reason for being,” she says. “Making a difference and encouraging a collective Jewish nucleus is important for the preservation of Judaism — culturally, religiously, and intellectually.”
Says Iantha Sidell, Federation’s board chair and a past recipient of the award, “Naomi is a positive and passionate force in our community. She is hard-working, brilliant, and supportive of the Federation’s mission and good work, as was Althea.” Lucy Pruzan, another past award recipient, agrees. Naomi is “a lovely, warm woman who’s been involved in our Jewish community for a long time,” she says. “I think Althea would agree that she’s deserving of this award.”
Naomi brings to the table over a quarter-century of marketing and public relations experience. She has a prodigious record of community service: board member and development chair for the Seattle Hebrew Academy; board member and executive committee member for the Holocaust Center for Humanity, where she is also a Legacy Speaker; Northwest president and national board member for the American Technion Society; marketing chair for the Israel at 50 and Israel at 60 celebrations; marketing chair for Hadassah’s “Breast Cancer Exposed” gala; public relations chair for the 1996 General Assembly in Seattle.
But wait, there’s more. For the Federation, Naomi has served on the board, has been a Lion of Judah since 2004, was Lion of Judah chair for two years, chaired the Women’s Philanthropy division, and served on a task force to establish Jewish in Seattle magazine. She has been deeply involved with Connections for years — as co-chair, as a member of multiple subcommittees, and as key player in bringing Randi Zuckerberg to the 2016 gathering.
Naomi says the greater community’s potential as a vibrant center of Jewish life is enormous. “Let’s welcome the stranger and offer platforms for diversity. We can prosper and flourish if we strengthen existing institutions but also look to future growth,” she says. “We must be astute and think dynamically.”
Naomi draws her vision for Jewish life in bright, bold colors. “Wouldn’t it be great if we gained a national reputation as a welcoming city, receptive to diverse Jewish backgrounds, with a multitude of offerings and thought leaders? A great city and a great Jewish city to live.”
We hope you will join us in celebrating Naomi at Connections 2020 on January 26.