Jonathan Gerber, Helping to provide a safety net.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jonathan Gerber, 33

Although he spends his days helping people get rich, Jonathan Gerber also makes sure he’s involved in the lives of the less fortunate.

An investment banker at J.P. Morgan Chase, he volunteers weekends and evenings for UJA-Federation of New York’s Poverty Task Force, helping steer the allocation of millions of dollars here and in Israel.

“I got started through UJA’s observership program on the task force, and then they made me a voting member,” says the Lawrence, L.I., native.

“After two or three years active they asked me to be the chair.”

The task force’s grants support programs that provide safety nets and entitlement access for struggling Jews; in Israel the grants have a particular focus on young adults at risk—mostly men who have not served in the army, often immigrants, who have trouble finding jobs. The task force partners with the Joint Distribution Committee on that project.

He visits Israel once a year and regularly pops in on local beneficiaries such as FEGS and the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst.

A financial background helps the Cornell graduate analyze whether donor funds are being spent efficiently.

“I found it to be a really interesting way of applying the skills of my day job,” says Gerber.

Although he has never faced the struggles of clients he’s helped, he is mindful that his grandparents, Holocaust survivors, came to this country from very humble beginnings.

“My family has always had traditional Jewish values of being strong supporters of philanthropy,” he said.

Gerber married Hillary Lisa Berman, owner of a Manhattan floral and design business, in February.

Heard through the grapevine:
He’s an amateur vintner, crushing grapes in his parents’ basement in Lawrence. Last year he made nine cases of reds under his label, El Jefe.

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