June meeting will see vote on federation union

June meeting will see vote on federation union

Central leadership will field questions on MetroWest merger

Supporters of the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey will cast their ballots June 4 on its planned merger with United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ.

The vote is the last step — required by the two organizations — in finalizing the merger and will take place during the Central federation’s annual meeting.

The executive committees and the boards of directors of both federations have voted in favor of uniting. The MetroWest members will vote at their annual meeting on May 23.

In addition to the usual election of trustees and award presentations, those attending the June 4 meeting on the Wilf campus in Scotch Plains will be able to ask questions about the merger. Central lay and professional leaders involved in the negotiations will be present.

“We want things to be as transparent as possible,” said Central federation’s executive vice president Stanley Stone, who initiated the merger idea two years ago. “We want the community to know we are not abandoning the Central area. It’s a cliche, but our overarching question was, ‘Is this consolidation better for the Jews here and abroad?’ And we are sure that it is.”

If the vote is in favor, he said, the new entity, the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, will come into being on July 1, with the appointment of a new, joint board of directors. A formal reception on July 31 will celebrate its establishment.

Central raises funds and supports Jewish institutions in Union County and parts of Somerset County, while MetroWest represents Jews in Essex, Morris and parts of Sussex and northern Union counties. Both organizations support major projects in Israel.

Though the total of the annual campaign and the Jewish population of the Central area are about 20 percent of MetroWest’s, supporters from Central will make up 30 percent of the new board. That is a reflection, Stone said, of “the tremendous sensitivity” of those involved, and their desire not just to make a business deal but to create an arrangement that works for both communities.

“Everyone involved understood that it would be complicated, and there have been bumps and challenges along the way,” Stone said, “but they kept their eyes on that long-range goal.”

Both sides hope the merger will help control operating costs in an increasingly challenging economic environment for their annual campaigns.

Although “we could have gone it alone,” Stone said, the consolidation made sense on a number of levels. In addition to cost savings from sharing “backroom” operations, the two areas are contiguous, and a number of people Stone termed “loyal, staunch supporters of Central” have moved to MetroWest communities over the past few years. Many more have close social, professional, or business connections in MetroWest.

The Central annual meeting will be preceded by a buffet reception and tribute to outgoing federation president Julie Lipsett-Singer, chaired by her friends and longtime federation colleagues Erica Needle and Sharon Rockman. Lipsett-Singer and her family are among the new residents of MetroWest, having moved from Scotch Plains to Livingston three years ago. She remains actively involved with Central.

“This is a historic event in our communities’ collective history,” said Mindy Goldberger, who is chairing the annual meeting. “Active engagement of Central NJ is more important now than ever. Every single person counts. Attendance at the annual meeting is a way to demonstrate support and to become educated firsthand. And it’s a great way to get inspired by and excited about what lies ahead.”

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