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What Makes You Roar?

In 1972, Norma Kipnis Wilson, z"l, and Toby Friedland, z"l, of Miami had a vision which has since become a statement of women’s desire to make change through giving. Currently, over 18,000 lions worldwide have embraced this unique sisterhood and proudly call themselves Lions of Judah (LOJ). Each woman makes an individual gift of at least $5,000 to the Annual Jewish Federation/UJA Campaign. The LOJ pin proudly worn by these women serves as a symbol of their philanthropy and has become an internationally recognized icon of women’s giving and passion for tzedakah. It’s a personal statement about responsibility and leadership. The pin has been transformed from being a piece of jewelry into an emblem of generosity and commitment.

In celebration of this milestone anniversary, we asked our Miami Lions what it means to them to be a Lion.  Below are some of their responses, in their own words.

Sara Bejar

I’m proud to be a Lion because I’m a part of a “pride” of strong and proud Jewish women who take care of Klal Israel.


Deborah Tellerman Berkowitz

“I am Woman - Hear my Roar!” Women supporting Jewish causes inspire me. We are leaders and supporters to make the world a better place.


Elise Scheck Bonwitt

I am proud to be a Lion because it represents my dedication to making a difference in the world. I am inspired by the women who have come before me, including Norma Kipnis Wilson and my mother, Raquel Scheck. They have given me and my friends the wisdom and strength to lead, take action, and show compassion toward others.


Melissa Buckner

I was inspired to be a Lion by my Wexner 11 cohort! The best, most amazing, dedicated, engaging group of Jewish leaders. This is a picture of me, Mark Kravitz and Lisa Kudish Rosenburg on the Mega Mission 2012. It was my first time in Israel and we had literally just landed in Eretz Yisrael. Mark asked if I would become a Lion and I got my pin during this trip. Such special memories.


Mojdeh Khaghan Danial

I am proud to be a Lion because I am empowered and inspired by the brilliant women leaders who make a positive impact in local, national and global Jewish communities and beyond. Being a Lion increases all the blessings in my life!


Terry Drucker

Becoming a Lion was one of the most meaningful and life-changing experiences of my life. There is no greater satisfaction than to be a part of what is now a worldwide “society” dedicated to Jewish ideals and traditions.


Barbara Black Goldfarb

When I wear my Lion, I feel a great sense of pride that I am part of an international society of Jewish women who share my values and ideals. I am honored to 
follow in the footsteps of my mentors: my mother, Selma Black whose pin I proudly wear; Norma Kipnis Wilson, co-founder of the Lion; Ellie Ganz and Maxine Schwartz, lifetime members of my self-appointed Mothers' Club.


Adriana Halac

I wear my Lion with pride, because behind this beautiful pin there’s a world of caring, strong and committed women with one goal: be there when needed.


Deahni Kipnis

I am using a picture of my mother because she died at the end of 2021. She was my inspiration to become a Lion. I watched her co-create this platform when I was a child. I left Miami when I was very young and when I came back, I knew I had to become a Lion — in my mother’s den! I am so proud of what my mom created and how all of you have taken the Lions to a level we never imagined! I am proud to be a part of this powerful group of inspired women! Hear us roar!


Ilene Kossman

A unique experience of being a Lion is the worldwide sisterhood you gain when you join the Lion of Judah pride. Lions are passionate, generous and inspiring women who work toward repairing the world. During the COVID crisis, an Israeli Lion whom I met at an ILOJ conference, Odelia Shpitalni, connected me to an at-risk girl living in Jerusalem who I tutored via Zoom while living in Miami. The student graduated from high school and is now proudly serving in the IDF.

Lynn Mendelssohn

I am proud to be a Lion because it means helping other Jews in need in all four corners of the world.


Alisa Oppenheim

I am proud to be a Lion because it has allowed me to join with an incredible group of women who share my values for tikkun olam, and allows me to demonstrate my commitment in a real and meaningful way.  I am so grateful for all that I have been blessed with in this life, and know that the Jewish pride my parents and grandparents passed down is a huge part of who I am.  I have tried to instill the blessings of our beautiful heritage in my children, and hope that the true meaning of the Lion of Judah program will inspire them to keep making this world better in any and every way they can.

Lezlie Poyastro

I am proud to be a Lion because it expresses my connection to the strength and voice of the Jewish women in my community and the world


Michele Scheck

Being a Lion means I am connected to like-minded women who value our collective culture, history and responsibility to tikkun olam.


Maxine Schwartz

When I wear my Lion pin, I feel that it announces what my priorities are and have been for the last 49 years since I first wore it.  My pin is also the visual representation of my membership in a unique and precious sisterhood.


Sheree Savar

When I wear my Lion, I am always reminded that I am enveloped in a community of goodness. It excites me with the possibilities of new beginnings, hope and renewal. Wearing it restores my spirit, my soul.


Elise Udelson

When I wear my Lion pin, I feel proud. I feel blessed. I feel inspired. I feel lucky…to be involved with women in our Miami community, women from across our country, and women around the world who share similar values and aspire to make our world better for those less fortunate. I feel gratitude.


Tammy Woldenberg

I am proud to be a Lion because it reflects the values that have been passed down to me by generations that came before. I would like to see those values continued to generations that will follow me!


Are you a Lion? We’d love to add you to this page. Just send your answer to one of the following prompts and a photo of yourself to wp@JewishMiami.org:

- I am proud to be a Lion because…
- I was inspired to become a Lion by whom, and why…
- A unique experience of being a Lion is…
- When I wear my Lion pin, I feel…

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