“Close your eyes,” said Tedd Friedman, president of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. “Take a moment and think about someone who has been a mentor to you. Someone who exemplifies selflessness and leadership.”
For Friedman and for many in the audience on May 17 at the Jewish Federation’s 121st annual meeting, the person they imagined was Jay Price. Friedman went on to recognize Price”s legacy by awarding him the Federation”s highest honor: the Nancy & Robert V. Goldstein Volunteer of the Year Award. He received sustained applause and a standing ovation.
“What I will tell you personally is when I think about a life, when I think about a mentor, I think about Jay. What he brings to our community is incomparable: his steady judgement, his compassion, his thoughtfulness and his caring is tremendous,” said Friedman.
Jeff Goldstein, son of Nancy and Bob Goldstein and the award’s presenter, said, “It is a great privilege and honor [to present the award] and I can’t think of a more deserving person.”
A person of extraordinary talents and energy, Price, often with his wife, Sue, has received numerous awards this year, including the Distinguished Service award from Carnegie Mellon University, and the Voices of Giving award from the Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council, which honors philanthropists from across the city.
Growing up, Sue and Jay Price both encountered various forms of anti-Semitism, which has been a driving force for them to get involved. Participating and giving back also helped them make friends, be a part of the community, and live out the values their parents taught them.
Price’s volunteer history is impressive and extensive. It includes currently serving as vice president of Development for the Federation; on the Jewish Federation executive committee and on its board of directors. He has been president of the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Family Service, Valley Temple, and also chairman of Cedar Village, and he still serves on the board and the executive committee of Cedar Village.
In his speech, which served as the close of the meeting, Price told the story of how he first met Bob Goldstein, for whom the award is in part named. In his early days at Procter & Gamble, “on the bottom rung,” he attended a dinner with Bob Goldstein, “a very new vice president,” as special guest. He continues:
“Well, I admit I was pretty intimidated being around a vice president, much less an industry icon. We had a break after dinner and when I went back to the table, Bob was sitting by himself. I got up my courage and I went up to him and, being the smooth guy that I am, said ‘Bob, I was very glad to see a Jew become vice president at P&G.’ He just looked at me, smiled, and said ‘Yeah, so was I.’ That put me on Bob’s Jewish list. So a few weeks later I got a call asking me if I would like to be on a new technology committee that Federation was starting up. … That was my first volunteer role. So tonight I have come full circle.”
Another amusing anecdote focused on his frequent fundraising across various organizations. He said:
“A man answered the phone and I could hear his wife in the background. She said ‘Who is calling?’ Her husband said, ‘Jay Price.’ The response was, ‘Ask him how he is feeling and is he calling to ask for money for the Federation, the Temple, or Cedar Village … or all of them?’ ”
Most poignant was Jay Price's discussion of the Jewish community’s strength in collaboration and how it has helped him:
“For me, as I have dealt with major health issues this past year, the word ‘collaboration’ has turned into the word ‘family.’ My extended family in the Jewish community has been an unbelievable source of strength for me. For that I say thank you.”
Price concluded simply, saying his message was to “get involved in the Jewish community” and “use your Jewish values to help others and heal the world. The more you do, the more you will want to do. You will be glad you did.”