Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Gene Ribakoff. a giant in Jewish philanthropy and our federation system, died last Friday. And with his death the Jewish People, with Gene's family, have suffered an irreplaceable loss. For Gene Ribakoff was not alone a leader of Community and People, he was a wonderful role model and mentor to so many of us.

I was fortunate to meet and to know Gene beginning with his days as Chair of the Worcester Federation when both of us served on the Board of UJA. From our first meeting to our last, I was "Richie" to Gene, an expression of the warmth that characterized all of Gene's relationships. Often over the next decade, at UJA meetings and by phone, we would commiserate about allocations issues confronting the United Jewish Appeal but we would always speak of our families as well.

During his 8 years as JDC Chair, we often found ourselves explaining the growing needs confronting the JDC and JAFI to federations around the country. We did so as partners not as adversaries -- in fact, I can't think of how anyone could have had an adversarial relationship with this great leader, this gentleman, this gentle man. He led the Joint with integrity and dignity, the same characteristics that defined his leadership of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach.

I, with all those who worked with him, with all those whose lives intersected with Gene's, will miss him so much. Our condolences to the Ribakoff and Sheerr families. May Gene's memory be for a blessing.


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