Celebrating past success, Main Event will look ahead

Celebrating past success, Main Event will look ahead

Organizers for this year’s Main Event aim to celebrate the past and inspire their guests with the prospect of a very different future.

Held May 9 at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston, the biggest annual campaign event organized by the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey’s Women’s Philanthropy will be the last of its kind.

With the Central federation expected to merge with United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ in the summer, next year’s gathering will reflect the altered and expanded region.

So will this year’s, said the event’s cochairs, Scotch Plains residents Aimee Jayinski and Rebecca Rosenheck.

“This is a time of transition, not an ending,” Rosenheck said, carefully reaching for the right word. “We want to thank those who have been involved and still are, and inspire everyone to continue with this wonderful work, building on our strengths, as we move forward.”

Rosenheck, an engineer by profession and an artist, did the painting of orchids featured on the event invitation. The image was chosen to convey the idea of spring and new beginnings.

“And we want to communicate what federation does, that this will continue to be a community that is there for you if you are ever in need, ready with open arms,” Jayinski said.

They and their committee came up with a program that embodies the traditional festivity of the event — with extended cocktail time for shmoozing with old and new friends — but also a range of changes and “some special surprises,” they said.

Event program chair Stacie Friedman, also of Scotch Plains, described the evening as a chance to enjoy “the warm feeling of sisterhood and camaraderie and the knowledge that while one woman can be strong, 200 working together are unstoppable.”

So while they devised a new format that will not include the Rhoda Rosenbach and the Woman of Valor awards of the past, they will pay tribute to past honorees and all the women of the Central federation for what they have achieved over the years.

Instead of a celebrity speaker or performer, a montage assembled by audio-visual producer Uri Abramov will feature the federation faces, places, and events of decades past. Speakers will share memories and their own experiences and describe some of the most memorable federation missions and projects.

The dinner will be lighter than the usual three-course meal. “So many of our people don’t really eat a lot mid-week,” Rosenheck said, but — she added — there will still be desserts.

Both cochairs have been involved with the Jewish community for a number of years. Rosenheck, who grew up in Baltimore, was drawn in by a neighbor in 1993, soon after she and her husband moved to Scotch Plains, when the youngest of her three children was a baby. She went on to help organize young women’s programs and the Opening Event, among other activities.

Jayinski, a special education teacher with two young children, said, “I’ve always been involved — since childhood.” She grew up on Long Island and attended a United Jewish Appeal camp and, as a young graduate living in Manhattan, took part in a leadership mission to Israel, where she met her husband. They moved to Scotch Plains in 2006, and — through their children — got involved with the Family Matters program at the JCC of Central NJ, and then with federation. “I’ve never really been away” from community involvement, she said.

In addition to the couvert charge of $80, there is a suggested minimum gift of $272 to the 2012 Annual Campaign. If that amount or more has already been given, the organizers said, “your gift is fulfilled.” If less has been given, they suggested that guests just make up the difference.

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