Annual meeting marks merger’s first year

Annual meeting marks merger’s first year

At the annual meeting are, from left, chairs Robert and Maxine Schwartz and Steve and Susanne Newmark.
At the annual meeting are, from left, chairs Robert and Maxine Schwartz and Steve and Susanne Newmark.

A celebration of the first year as a “greater” federation also launched a yearlong celebration of a milestone anniversary.

Close to 200 people gathered at the Aidekman Jewish Community Campus in Whippany on May 23 for the annual meeting of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. The event marked the first year since the merger of Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey and United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ and the 90th anniversary of the MetroWest community.

“As we conclude our first year as a larger federated community, we should all be proud and motivated by how much we have been inspired by each other and how much we have learned from each other,” said federation president Lori Klinghoffer.

Highlights of the evening included a performance by the Greg Wall Trio and a slide show of events through the decades, courtesy of the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey.

Chaired by Susanne and Steve Newmark and Maxine and Robert Schwartz, the meeting included the election of trustees to the boards of the Greater MetroWest federation, New Jersey Jewish News, The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

Klinghoffer described the first year since the merger as “quite a ride.”

“We’ve already accomplished so much together, and yes, there have been and will continue to be challenges along the way, but we truly have had a remarkable first year,” she said. High points included the responses to Hurricane Sandy at home and Operation Pillar of Defense in Israel, a strong voice on legislative issues (human trafficking, enhanced charitable giving, Israel’s 65th birthday), extended services to seniors and people with special needs, development of young leadership, strengthened and enhanced connections to Israel, and an increased focus on teens, especially in the Israel advocacy arena.

Saying she recognized the critical need to remain ahead of the curve in the 21st century, Klinghoffer reported that the strategic planning process has identified six priorities and will soon be moving into task force mode to develop recommendations for implementation in each area.

In his d’var Torah, federation executive vice president/CEO Max Kleinman shared an encounter he had with a young man who suggested that federation should narrow its focus and let “someone else” take care of the rest. “We are the ‘someone else,’” he said. “Let’s continue to be the best someone else we can be.”

“Torah and community stress, ‘When you light the lamps, we should ensure that this wisdom will shine toward the center of the menorah,’” said federation executive director Stanley Stone. “The light of the collective truly symbolizes our Greater MetroWest federation, which today is made up of diverse individuals and communities who are united, dedicated, and committed to enhancing our Jewish community.”

Paula Saginaw, Lester Society and Lion of Judah Endowment chair, recognized society members (donors of $100,000 or more) for their extraordinary philanthropy. She also noted that the approximately 300 society commitments include 170 LOJEs (gifts of $100,000 or more by women donors).

In her United Jewish Appeal campaign report, Women’s Philanthropy president Maxine B. Murnick referenced the theme of the recent Women’s Awareness Day: “happy for no reason.” “Happy for no reason?” she said. “Women’s Philanthropy is happy for many reasons — the record numbers of attendance at events and gifts made at events, and increases in all levels of giving.”

Leslie Dannin Rosenthal, chair of the UJA General Campaign, said, “All this year, I have seen the ‘Greater’ in Greater MetroWest come to life. I saw it at our very first campaign event, the Pacesetter event, coming from the tradition of the historic Central community. This event truly did set the pace for our annual campaign, putting us ahead of last year’s pace all the way through till tonight.”

“The bottom line,” said Klinghoffer, “is that all we accomplish is a testament to all of you and so many others in the Greater MetroWest Jewish community. As we, the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, celebrate our 90th anniversary, we have much to be proud of, much to be inspired by, and so much to look forward to.”

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