We read with interest Johanna Ginsburg’s fascinating Reporter’s Notebook about the declining Jewish presence in Newark and the lack of connection felt by many young members of our community to their families’ Newark roots (“Newark’s Jewish roots becoming history,” Aug. 3).
As executive director/CEO and chair of The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, which was born in 1996 from the sale of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center to what is now RWJBarnabas Health, we want to point out that despite the many truths in the article, the Jewish community still has strong ties and a presence in the city.
First of all, our foundation has awarded over $100 million in grants to support projects in Newark. We have been working since 1996 to connect low-income, vulnerable people to health care and to opportunities to lead healthier lives. Our logo, with its Star of David and tagline, “founded by the Jewish community,” appears on all publicity surrounding those grants and on plaques in numerous community agencies, playgrounds, parks, and health-care institutions throughout Newark.
Newark Beth Israel Medical Center is a major presence in the city of Newark, with the Star of David prominent on its main building named for Lester Z. Lieberman, a former chair of its board. And let’s not forget the hospital’s Frederick B. Cohen Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and its Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey Breast Health Center, which brings state-of-the-art breast care to local residents. The hospital made a conscious decision at the time of the unrest in the late ’60s to remain in the city and to care for those who live and work there. Judy Lieberman, past president of the JCC MetroWest, will soon participate in a special dedication ceremony at the Beth in honor of her late husband, Lester.
Casa Israel, the adult medical day care center run by the Adubato family’s North Ward Center, bears its name and the Jewish star on its building as a result of seed money awarded by the Healthcare Foundation and negotiated by Les Lieberman, our founding chair. Despite initial negative feedback from the surrounding community about the name, Steve Adubato Sr. stood his ground, honored his pledge to Les Lieberman and the Foundation, and established what is today an important and treasured institution that serves Newark’s frail elderly.
We could go on. Suffice it to say that the Healthcare Foundation works hard to keep the presence of the Jewish community and Jewish values alive in Newark. Whether working with the smallest grassroots organizations or the largest institutions, we stress the Jewish heritage that made our involvement possible.
Marsha Atkind, executive director/CEO
Dr. Beth Levithan, chair
The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey