The Jewish Federation of Monmouth County celebrated four major initiatives as leaders gathered for its annual meeting in Long Branch.
Keith Krivitzky, federation executive director, told officers, board members, award winners, and guests that the June 18 meeting was an opportunity to “kvell a little” about the year’s accomplishments.
Among these are Jersey Shore House, where young Jewish adults can celebrate Shabbat, bond with other Jews, and perform community service to aid victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Krivitsky said that for the second year in a row, the federation’s adVENTURE fund would dispense seed money for new, innovative ideas. Launched in 2012, adVENTURE provides grants from $500 to $3,000 for projects that range from a Jewish music festival at the Jersey shore to an intergenerational Hanukka celebration for Holocaust survivors.
The fourth initiative calls for the hiring of Rabbi Michelle Pearlman as its first director of community engagement. Krivitzky said part of her mission will be to help the 70,000-plus Jews of Monmouth County navigate through the dozens of organizations, including synagogues, that offer programs and services each year.
Pearlman, who is currently religious leader at Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, will take up her new position Aug. 1. “Rabbi Pearlman will help people connect the dots,” Krivitsky said.
Sheryl Grutman, who succeeds Joe Hollander as federation president, also spoke about “connections” in her inaugural speech.
“My vision for federation over the next two years is that we act as the mechanism inspiring more members of the Monmouth County Jewish community to become involved in and connected to Jewish life,” said Grutman. “Our organization should be the catalyst and enabler, helping our many partners meet the needs of Jews both locally and overseas.”
Grutman, a 56-year-old Manalapan resident, is the owner of A2Z Inc., a firm specializing in promotional products. She is the mother of three adult children — Pamela, 29, a law student; Jonathan, 27, a CPA; and Adam, 25, working this summer as a counselor at a JCC camp in Florida.
In an interview conducted prior to the annual meeting, Grutman told NJJN, “I was raised by parents who taught me the importance of giving back to those in need.”
Involved with federation since 2004, she was most recently the organization’s vice president of Women’s Philanthropy.
Grutman, who has the Lion of Judah distinction reserved for women who have made a financial commitment of at least $5,000 to federation, said she understands the need to attract smaller contributions.
“We need to cultivate and appreciate $18 donors as well as major donors,” she said. “Everyone can play a part. And, over time, some of those smaller donors may become much bigger donors.”
At the meeting, Hollander expressed his conviction that federation’s greatest challenge is to help make Jews — “Jews who understand who we are and why we are a people bound by faith, with a positive message for each other and the world.”
Hollander also recapped some of federation’s accomplishments during his two-year term, including the hiring of Krivitzky as executive director, an extensive overhaul of the staff, a new approach to the annual Super Sunday phonathon, federation-sponsored visits to Israel by about 130 people, and Birthright trips by hundreds of young adults.