There was plenty of camaraderie and good humor at the annual meeting of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ in Whippany on May 21.
Close to 200 people gathered on the Aidekman campus to thank Lori Klinghoffer for her term as president and to welcome Leslie Dannin Rosenthal as her successor.
For Max Kleinman, the federation’s executive vice president and CEO, it marked the last annual meeting of his tenure, as he prepares to retire next November. Opening the meeting with a d’var Torah, Kleinman commented on the response of the Israelites when offered the Torah: “Na’aseh v’nishma,” literally “We will do and we will hear,” but commonly understood, he said, as “We will accept and do it and then study its substance. Learning is not enough — we must act even though we may not know all the nuances and repercussions of the law.”
Kleinman praised three leaders “who acted because there was a need to act without fully knowing what lay ahead”: Gary Wingens, architect of the federation’s strategic plan; Dannin Rosenthal, “who will lead us in the future,” and Klinghoffer, who, he said, acted on momentous issues as “the first president of the merged federation — an unpredictable and bold statement of Na’aseh v’nishma.”
Dannin Rosenthal, the outgoing UJA Campaign chair, reported that the annual campaign has raised to date $16.4 million in unrestricted funds and $1.5 million in supplementary giving. The goal for the year, which ends June 30, is $22.1 million.
“How will we get there?” she said. “By doing what we do, day to day, one step at a time, making phone calls, sending e-mails and even hand-written notes.”
Maxine Murnick, head of the federation’s Women’s Philanthropy, announced that nearly one third of the campaign total, or $5,948,381, came from her division.
During her report, Klinghoffer ticked off some highlights of the past year, including donations of $71,000 to Ukraine, where the federation has partner communities in Cherkassy and Odessa; volunteer and financial assistance to victims of Hurricane Sandy; and a lead role by its Community Relations Committee in the statewide fight against human trafficking.
Klinghoffer also reported that Jewish residential camping experiences have been funded to the tune of $350,000 a year — primarily through the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ and supplemented by federation’s UJA dollars. She also cited the seven federation missions to Israel and the six Rishonim, or young Israeli emissaries, posted to the Jewish community.
She also announced that the foundation, the federation’s planned giving arm, now is the largest foundation in New Jersey, with assets totaling more than $387 million.
Klinghoffer summed up her three years in office — year 1: gearing up for the merger between the Jewish Federation of Central NJ and United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ; year 2: establishment of the renamed Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ; and year 3: establishing the path for the federation’s future, which next November will see a new chief executive.
The federation’s executive committee will vote June 2 on a search committee’s recommendation that Dov Ben-Shimon, a top staffer at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, succeed Kleinman.
“As we approach our second birthday as Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, we’ve made great strides expanding our horizons,” said Klinghoffer, of Short Hills. “We have spent a great deal of time and effort to creatively define and plan for the best ways to meet the myriad needs in our ever-changing Jewish world. We recognize the critical need to remain ahead of the curve in the 21st century — how do we, as a federation, remain relevant and responsive in these ever-changing times?”
During the meeting, former federation president Kenneth Heyman received the Jewish Federations of North America’s Endowment Achievement Award, Taryn Berelowitz and Jonathan Liss were named as the next recipients of the Julius and Bessie Cohn Young Leadership Award, Gary Wingens was recognized as outgoing chair of the unified allocations council and strategic planning committee, and community campaign manager Lauren Saltus was honored with the staff Avodah Award for service to the federation.
Five people were honored with 10-year anniversary awards, while Alan Gerberg, the federation’s director of special projects, was honored for 25 years of service. Merle Hirschmann was honored for her face-to-face solicitations.