Celebrating the volunteers, leaders and professionals of #Jew Orleans

Jonny Lake, Incoming Board Chair, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans


Jonathan Lake was born in New Orleans, a fifth-generation descendant of one of the original 26 founders of Congregation Gates of Prayer. After graduating from Newman School in 1969, he completed his education majoring in Economics at Tulane and obtaining his Juris Doctor degree at Tulane Law School. As a sole practitioner for over 45 years, he specialized in Real Estate and Corporate Litigation. 


Jonny has served on the boards and in leadership positions for Congregation Gates of Prayer, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Community Center, Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. He is the proud father of three daughters and grandfather of nine ranging from first grade to college. His favorite things to do include walking in Audubon Park, teaching at Newman School and supporting and cheering for his grandchildren in their many endeavors and exploits plus, of course, Federation activities and meetings.


Jonny will take the reins as the Chair of the Jewish Federation Board of Trustees at the 110th Annual Meeting on September 7. Register here to attend.


What value do we need most in our world today?

Understanding and compassion for one another are the values we each should strive for in our imperfect world.


What do you value most in your friends?

Loyalty and support during stressful and difficult times are what I value most in friends and family.


Who’s your favorite Jewish hero (living or not/fictional or not) and why? 

My favorite hero is my mother, Amy Lake, because she taught me to do my best to serve others each and every day with a smile and a positive attitude.


What’s the best thing about being part of our New Orleans Jewish community?

I feel that the best part of being involved in our New Orleans Jewish community is receiving the gifts of friendship and meaning in life that increases as each year passes and each of us has opportunities to have a positive impact on the lives of others in need. 


Why did you get involved in our Jewish Federation and what have you gained from your experience?

I am involved in Jewish Federation to serve others less fortunate than myself locally and around the world. Continually, I am appreciative of the efforts and guidance of professionals and volunteers that remind me that we work together as a team to attempt to solve the issues of our lives.


What are your priorities during your tenure as Federation Board Chair?

My priority as Board Chair is to bring our Jewish community closer together through activities and projects that serve all ages and interests. We have a responsibility and commandment to bless each other during good and difficult times. Am Yisrael Chai!

David Shepard, Chair, Israel and Overseas Committee


David Shepard is the Jewish Federation’s Israel and Overseas Chair. He also serves on the Federation Board and Executive Committee and on the Jewish Community Relations Council. Prior to joining the Federation board, David was JNOLA Co-Chair from 2015-2017.


In his professional life, David is a former middle school math teacher who now serves as the Director of Policy and Data Strategy for YouthForce NOLA, a local education non-profit focused on career and technical education. He is engaged to be married to his fiancee and better half, Lesley Lucas, in October.


David earned his undergraduate degree in economics and urban studies from Washington University in St. Louis. He holds a Masters in Urban Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.


What value do we need most in our world today? 

Listening. Listening is the value and the skill on which common understanding lies, and it tends to be reciprocal. If we listen to the stories and ideas of others, they are likely to ask us to share our own stories and ideas. 


What do you value most in your friends? 

Positivity. Listening is the foundation for positive engagement with others. Positivity leads us to build others up, express an interest in others, and seek common experiences that bring us joy. Lesley and I love creating experiences for and with our friends, old and new, from hosting Shabbat dinners to participating in civic life and cultural traditions, such as our Mardi Gras Krewe, Mishigas, which Lesley co-leads.


Who’s your favorite Jewish hero (living or not/fictional or not) and why? 

I am deeply moved by the story of Raphael Lemkin, who used his skills as a linguist and a lawyer to advocate for genocide to become an international crime after the Holocaust. Personally, I try to carry on the memory of my namesake Louis Fabricant, my maternal grandfather from whom my middle name Lawrence is derived, who emigrated from Russia as a child and developed his skills, character, and achievement in many fields. 


What’s the best thing about being part of our New Orleans Jewish community? 

I was raised in the New Orleans Jewish community and had the opportunity to learn from my parents and my sister, whose leadership helped me see how our community can help people find their place and become their best selves. Now, I’m able to join with others to continue the tradition of an inclusive and empowering Jewish community that I learned from my family.


Why is it important to be inclusive about how we discuss and connect to Israel?

Israel is an important part of their identity for many members of our community. As a community, we need to offer opportunities to all of our members to explore, share, and connect to the many different ways that we understand and relate to Israel. At the institutional level, these opportunities will enable our current and future leaders to collectively and thoughtfully consider the role of Israel both when engaging within the Jewish community and with other communities in New Orleans.


What are some upcoming Federation Israel-centered projects you’re most looking forward to, and why?

Thanks in large part to the leadership of new Federation CEO Robert French, Federation is building on the success of its Israel-connected initiatives by seeking synergies across these initiatives and identifying a role for Federation in filling gaps in Israel programming within our community. In addition to the many initiatives that enable our community to connect to Israel and engage with Israeli traditions, I believe that our community can achieve a culture in which we openly and respectfully talk about Israel across lines of difference. To that end, I’m looking forward to an intentional new set of small group discussions and speakers that we will be facilitating over the next year.


If people want to get involved with these projects, what should they do?

Please email Federation’s new Chief Program & Engagement Officer, Elizabeth Sloane, at elizabeth@jewishnola.com.

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