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Did you hear the one about the Jewish benefit?
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Did you hear the one about the Jewish benefit?

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Those committed to the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County are deadly serious about its mission to care for the Jewish community locally and throughout the world.

However, that doesn’t mean those supporters can’t laugh along the way.

In the first event for the federation’s new Mitzvah Society, a program will offer aspiring comedians, or those who simply want to share a funny anecdote or joke, a chance to be in the spotlight.

“Middlesex Jews Telling Jokes” will take place Sunday, Oct. 14. The Mitzvah Society honors those who have given at least $613 annually to the federation campaign (current pledges can be paid through Dec. 31, 2013).

“We want to thank these donors and provide an opportunity for them to have an enjoyable evening out where they can laugh with friends,” said program cochair Wayne Gonchar.

The Mitzvah Society members “live our mission” through their contributions and “raise awareness of the needs of the community,” said federation associate executive director Susan Antman. “We would love to inspire more donors to reach this level.”

The program, to be held at Baker’s Barn in East Brunswick, is a takeoff on the current Off-Broadway play, Old Jews Telling Jokes, itself inspired by a popular website with roots in Middlesex County. Filmmaker Sam Hoffman shot the original installments of the viral videos in his hometown of Highland Park, using his parents and their Jewish friends as his subjects.

The federation’s homage will have a “Coney Island atmosphere,” with hot dogs, knishes, and corn on the cob on the menu.

“I’m so glad to be part of this event because it brings together two things that Jews do well — helping people and making people laugh,” said program cochair Ruth Bash of East Brunswick. “This evening is also an opportunity to say thank you to our Mitzvah Society donors who do so much to improve the lives of Jews in our community and in Israel and beyond.”

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