Sunday, April 10, was a time of kvelling for nearly 200 leaders, members, and guests of the Jewish Heritage Museum of Monmouth County.
A four-hour brunch, held at Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, featured music, presentations, awards, and a silent auction of 50 gift baskets.
The afternoon’s emotional high point came with awards presentations to the following 17 honorees.
• Gloria K. Berman, chair of the programming committee, helped plan and facilitate 20-30 programs each year.
• Michael Berman, as a member of the Freehold Township Historic Preservation Committee, acted as liaison between that body and the museum’s fledgling leadership.
• Helene Cohen has been active in fund-raising for the museum and also works closely with its children’s education committee.
• Gary Cohen, a professional electrician, now retired, helped design and install the museum’s electrical system.
• Mel Druin was cochair of exhibits during the early years.
• Linda Friedman served on the board of trustees, principally engaged in fund-raising.
• Bernard “Nardie” Hochberg charges the museum just $1 a year in rent for the historic Levi Solomon barn. At the brunch, Hochberg also pledged a $50,000 donation to the museum, the majority of which would come from his family, the remainder from other sources.
• Jean Klerman has been called the “matriarch” of the museum and currently cochairs the history committee with Rabbi Robert Fierstein.
• Charlotte Kruman was a cofounder and one of the first two copresidents of the museum.
• Gloria Landy, another founding member, said she “fondly remembers” holding a board of trustees meeting at her home in Rumson before the museum had a home of its own.
• Sid Marshall helped the museum create more than 25 videos and multiple audio recordings during the past decade.
• Barbara Michaels was a founding trustee and served as program chair for the museum’s very first event, a cantorial concert, and also was the institution’s public relations chair for seven years.
• Rabbi Sally J. Priesand, America’s first female rabbi, served as chair of the long-range planning committee, helping to set major goals for the museum.
• Elaine Ruda was the first secretary of the board of trustees.
• Caryl and Charles Sills of Tinton Falls have been staunch supporters of the museum since its inception.
• Rabbi Brooks R. Susman, a longtime friend of the museum, occasionally puts on programs there.
Each honoree will have a leaf inscribed with his or her name added to the Genesis Tree in the museum’s lobby, said Phyllis Solomon, who cochaired the brunch along with Helene Cohen.
A commemorative journal contained many congratulatory messages, including the following from the children and grandchildren of honorees Gary and Helene Cohen:
“All the founding members of this Museum, which contains a treasure trove of the heritage of the local Jewish community, deserve the highest honor and distinction for the selfless acts they perform, day in and day out, to continue educating all people, Jew or Gentile, about the history of the Jewish people.”