A few years ago Rachel Jonas had never heard of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
While trying to decide where to make her year-end charitable contributions, the young investment banker, a Philadelphia native, stumbled across the group on UJA-Federation of New York’s website. Clicking on the agency’s link, Jonas (no relation to the prominent Jewish philanthropist Howard Jonas) was impressed by its range of services for financially struggling New Yorkers, Jewish and gentile.
“It was very touching and was also very accessible,” she says. “Unlike many causes where you give what you can but you think, ‘How is my $100 really going to help,’ it said, ‘$10 can buy a food package for a family for Shabbos.’”
Soon after becoming a regular donor, Jonas was invited to help form a young leadership group. Met Council’s Most Valuable Players Group focuses on supporting food-related programs, like kosher food banks and the Masbia network of kosher soup kitchens. It has organized two gala events so far: the first raised $12,000, and the next one $15,000. “It’s not at the level we want it to be at yet, but hopefully we’ll get there,” she says.
Influencing Jonas is the fact that three of her grandparents are Holocaust survivors and immigrants to the United States. While her grandparents ultimately achieved “the American dream,” and both of Jonas’ parents are successful physicians, the family’s early years in the United States were “really very tough times.”
Currently finishing up a master’s in engineering and bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Jonas spends part of the week in suburban Philly with her parents and the rest of the time on the Upper West Side with her husband of five months. The newlyweds are members of The Jewish Center, a Modern Orthodox congregation.
A minor in liberal arts: Even though she majored in neuro-engineering and business, Jonas, an opera and film noir buff, took several art history and music history classes as an undergrad at Penn.