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Humor, bonding prevail at federation Main Event
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Humor, bonding prevail at federation Main Event

Main Event honorees Lauren Reich, center, and Chris Katz, right, receive their awards from Women’s Philanthropy president Sheryl Grutman. Photos by Freehold Photography and Video
Main Event honorees Lauren Reich, center, and Chris Katz, right, receive their awards from Women’s Philanthropy president Sheryl Grutman. Photos by Freehold Photography and Video

It was a night of mother-daughter humor and bonding at the Main Event of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County’s Women’s Philanthropy.

The more than 170 attendees at the May 12 dinner had a laugh-out-loud response as comedian Amy Borkowsky played selections from her hilarious collection of answering-machine messages left by her overprotective mother offering unsolicited advice and unassailable opinions to her daughter, “Ameleh.”

Held at Congregation Magen David in West Deal, the event honored the contributions of two local mothers and prominent Jewish community leaders — Chris Katz of Wayside and Lauren Reich of Manalapan.

Both women exemplify the evening’s theme, “Women Whose Homes and Families Extend Beyond the Front Door,” said Robin Wander, event chair and Women’s Philanthropy outreach chair.

Among the honorees’ friends, family members, and federation colleagues in attendance was a tableful of mothers and daughters — Dawn Barofsky of Wayside, Hagit Morgan of West Allenhurst, Jacqueline Moskowitz of Ocean, and Lisa Guss of Wayside brought their teenage daughters to witness the celebration of Jewish women and the comedic turns of one of them.

“I’ve been involved with the Main Event for years, so bringing my daughter Alana with me for the first time helps demystify the event for her,” said Barofsky. “I want to motivate her to be involved in the community as well, and to find role models in all of the other women here.”

The event left an impression on Sarah Guss, 14. “It’s interesting to see how Jews of different backgrounds come together and interact through federation,” she said. “As Jewish women, we are more like sisters than friends. We have a very strong bond.”

The Main Event helps recognize the impact of that bond, said Sheri Tarrab of Holmdel, federation’s campaign vice president. “How lucky are we to have these exceptional women, Chris and Lauren, in our community,” she said during the tributes. “Federation reaches Jews throughout the world. It is the power of the collective and the power of the community that can change the world.”

‘Tireless dedication’

Reich’s three children (Nicole, Jeremy, and Daniel) and Katz’s two older daughters (Kylie and Cameron) delivered tributes to their mothers. The two younger Katz daughters, Skylar and Makenzie, joined their family table later in the evening.

“Our mother is our role model, our support system, and our best friend,” said Nicole. “Her tireless dedication to others has taught us to be loyal and hardworking, and her generous heart has showed us how to always give back to those in need.”

His mother’s outgoing nature always inspires him to seek opportunities to get involved, said Jeremy Reich. “I can’t imagine raising a family and not being active in the Jewish community,” he told NJJN.

Kylie and Cameron Katz delivered their message to their mother in unison. “She supports every cause she comes across, yet she always has time for us and friends. Someone this amazing deserves to be recognized,” the sisters said.

Engaging the next generation is one of the goals of Women’s Philanthropy, Reich told the audience. “We must open new doors and continue to welcome newcomers into our Jewish community. We need to collaborate and work together as women to strengthen our community and make a difference.”

Katz credited her husband, Todd, for “being responsible for this wonderful Jewish journey that is my life,” she said, alluding to her conversion to Judaism prior to their 1996 wedding.

“My motivation to give back comes from an indebtedness I incurred for the spiritual guidance and meaningful relationships I have established in this community,” she said.

Katz has a daily reminder of the power of women, in the form of a pillow she keeps in her bedroom, she told NJJN. “It says, ‘Strong Women: May we know them. May we raise them. May we be them,’” she said. “I want my girls to live that life and pursue all their dreams.”

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