Jennie and Joe Shein, immigrants from Poland, didn’t have a lot of money, but they were devoted to their people and generously spent their time to benefit the Jewish community. Their son, Jeffries Shein of Long Branch, has followed in their footsteps, dedicating years to the service of the Jewish people. Owners of a general store in New Brunswick, his parents were, Shein said, “people of modest means” who offered help whenever and however they could.
But unlike his parents, the success Shein achieved in a career in real estate has enabled him to provide major financial support, as well. To honor the people who instilled these values in him, Jeffries and his wife, Rona, donated $1 million to the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey to establish the Jeffries and Rona Shein Family Donor Advised Fund. Shein will establish the fund on Jan. 12 to coincide with what would have been his parents’ 100th wedding anniversary. (Shein will turn 78 on the same day.) The fund will be earmarked to support causes that assist the vulnerable in both the Jewish and general communities.
“They would be very happy knowing that I could do this for the community,” Shein told NJJN in a phone interview.
Joe headed the chevra kadisha in Middlesex County for more than 40 years, and was among the men who took care of the ritual preparation of the dead before burial. He also oversaw the women’s group. Jennie was treasurer of the area Hebrew Ladies Free Loan Society for more than 35 years, until her death.
“My mom has been gone 52 years and my dad 46 years, and for the last two-and-a-half years I’ve been thinking about doing something in their memory,” Jeffries said. “My wife finally said to me, ‘You’re going to be 78; if you want to do something, you better do it now.’ With their 100th anniversary coming up, this seemed like the opportune time.”
Jeffries and Rona also established a philanthropic fund in 1994 at what was then the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County (its 2015 merger with the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County formed the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ).
“The federation makes it very easy to administer,” said Shein. “They take care of everything and help make it a good vehicle through which to fund our philanthropic efforts.”
The couple is active in the Chabad of the Shore in Long Branch, and Rona is an endowed Lion of Judah through the federation, having committed to continuing her annual gift in perpetuity after her death. The Sheins also donated the South River building that housed, at the time, the Middlesex federation, now the Heart of NJ federation, in memory of Rona’s mother, Marion Tanzman. Rona’s father is the late state Sen. Norman Tanzman.
Jeffries is a founder and former president of what was the Central New Jersey Jewish Home for the Aged, now the Regency Jewish Heritage nursing and rehabilitation center, on the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living in Somerset. He served as board chair for the Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy and Old Bridge, and is president of the Middlesex County 200 Club, which honors police and first responders, and awards scholarships to their children, and of the Marion & Norman Tanzman Charitable Foundation in Woodbridge.
He’s also a trustee of the Provident Bank Foundation, having retired from the bank’s board in 2015 after 30 years; a board member of the Middlesex Water Company; and was president of the Morris and Lydia Goldfarb Foundation until it ceased operations in 2014.
“Jeff and Rona have been amazingly strong supporters of federation, the Jewish community, and a host of community organizations for decades,” said federation executive vice president Susan Antman, lauding Jeffries’ ability to solve problems and answer questions that come up in her community service work.
“His solutions aren’t casual or simple,” she said. “They are anchored in Jewish history and layered with values instilled by his parents. His is a generosity that comes with time and a caring heart…quietly changing the lives of those who need his help most.”