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Federation mixer attracts young adults
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Federation mixer attracts young adults

Socializing at the first federation-sponsored Mix & Mingle are, from left, Paul Silber, Manalapan; Sarah Portilla, Marlboro; and Stephanie and Josh Gartenberg, Manalapan. 
Socializing at the first federation-sponsored Mix & Mingle are, from left, Paul Silber, Manalapan; Sarah Portilla, Marlboro; and Stephanie and Josh Gartenberg, Manalapan. 

One of the first joint activities staged by the newly organized Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey drew 40 young adults to the Wine Loft at Pier Village in Long Branch.

The Jan. 29 Mix & Mingle is part of a strategy by the federation to engage Jews in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, including singles and married couples.

The event was a “direct result of feedback from young adults in the community,” said Sarah Portilla, director of community engagement for the combined federation. 

The event, open to residents of both Middlesex and Monmouth counties, was planned by the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County prior to its Jan. 1 merger with the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.

Lisa Mendelson, a psychologist from Oakhurst, attended with her husband, Josh, a neurologist with a practice in West Long Branch. 

Mendelson said she and her husband, both in their mid-30s, with a two-year-old daughter, appreciated the opportunity to interact with federation staff members and to learn about the ways it supports Jewish activities and principles. “The evening was about 40 percent business and 60 percent social,” she said.

A friend to the event’s three cochairs, Mendelson said she was inspired to learn more about federation’s work. 

“The evening was a success,” she said “Up until recently, we’ve only had mild-to-moderate involvement in the Jewish community.”

The cochairs described the activities of the umbrella philanthropy, which marshals financial resources and facilitates partnerships to solve the big issues facing the Jewish community locally and around the world.

“When we gather together we have the ability to make connections, network, and grow our presence in our communities,” said Marsha Gryvatz of Tinton Falls. 

Rachel Presser of Ocean, another cochair, spoke of the federation’s funding of such programs as Jewish Family and Children’s Services; PJ Library, kosher meals-on-wheels; The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights and Genocide Education at Brookdale Community College; and The Friendship Circle, which recruits teens to provide support to children with special needs and their families.

The federation is “an organization that strengthens Jewish identity and community locally, throughout the United States, in Israel, and around the world,” said Presser.

Jenna Silber of Manalapan, the third cochair, asked members of the crowd at the Wine Loft to “tell us what types of programs you would be interested in.” She told attendees that the new federation has a 2015 campaign goal of $4 million.

As a Tanzman Family Fellow at the former Middlesex federation and current board member of Rutgers Hillel, Eric Wallenstein, a resident of Highland Park in Middlesex County, already considers himself committed to Jewish community service. He came to the mixer in response to an e-mail from Mitch Frumkin, former president of the Middlesex federation who now holds the post at the new federation. 

“I was eager to meet people from Monmouth County,” said the 34-year-old Wallenstein, “to explore how we might collaborate across county lines to help federation accomplish even more than it currently does.”

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