Gathering at the federation’s annual meeting June 24 at Adath Israel Congregation in Lawrenceville, leaders of United Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks said that despite the economy, the federation has continued to meet the needs of the Jewish community locally and around the world.
The meeting honored its former president Carol Pollard with the 2010 Community Service Award and hailed the achievements of teens from the Jewish Community Youth Foundation.
President Lisa Smukler said that the federation would extend its annual campaign by a month — to July 31 — in an effort to match last year’s fund-raising total of $1.725 million. The federation sent fund-raising letters and held a “mini-telethon” June 27.
Smukler described the federation’s support for programs that feed hungry seniors, educate children, and assist Jews in Israel and in the far corners of the world. This year the federation movement collected aid after earthquakes devastated areas of Haiti and Chile.
“We give out what we take in,” Smukler told the gathering. “With your help we will continue to make a difference in the world.”
Federation executive director Andrew Frank also thanked volunteers for their efforts and for helping to build a community “in a pluralistic environment with our global partners.”
The volunteers, he said, “aspire to make this a better world, for tikun olam [repairing the world] so we can become ‘a light unto the nations.’”
Frank acknowledged that the last two years have been “challenging” but said he is optimistic about the future.
The meeting included remarks by teenage participants in the federation’s Jewish Community Youth Foundation, a philanthropy program for teens in grades eight-12. Each teen contributes $120, which is matched by both the federation and the Ricky and Andrew J. Shechtel Philanthropic Fund. The youths then decide which Jewish organizations will receive the funds.
Working with the foundation, said Adam Bacall, gave him “a lot of satisfaction and different skills. It really gave me a good feeling.”
Adam, whose family are members of Congregation Beth Chaim in Princeton Junction, said the program also taught him how to make decisions in concert with others.
Erica Borsack, whose family belongs to The Jewish Center in Princeton, said she learned about the philosophy of various charities as well as how to engage in “thoughtful debate” with her peers. Being part of the JCYF also showed her just how vital the federation is to the continuity of the Jewish community, she said, adding that she enjoyed her philanthropic endeavors so much, she is considering making it her career.
Pollard, who previously served as Women’s Campaign president of UJA Princeton and was the federation’s president from 2002 to 2003, said she got much satisfaction from helping the community.
“We are fortunate; we really are,” said Pollard in accepting her award. “We are free to make choices and we do so every day. And one of the most important choices we make is to give tzedaka.”