Meeting focuses on successes, transitions
Gerrie Bamira announces one last year as head of Middlesex federation
At its annual meeting, leaders of Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County pointed to more than one “remarkable achievement” in assessing the organization’s recent record, in particular the turnaround that has put the campaign on the upswing after the several-years’ slump resulting from the economic downturn.
Federation executive director Gerrie Bamira also used the event, held June 10 at Congregation Ahavas Achim in Highland Park, to announce that this will be her last year at the helm of the organization.
With 20 days to go until the June 30 close of the federation fiscal year, federation president Seth Gross said the campaign is up “for the first time in five years,” exceeding by $26,000 “what many believed was an unobtainable goal” of $2.1 million.
“It’s a remarkable achievement,” said Gross.
He said the campaign added 142 new donors in the last year and 462 others who came back after a several-years’ absence.
Gross also listed among the successes of the past year the federation’s new programmatic allocation model, the inclusion of men at the annual Main Event fund-raiser, support of educational programs for children and adults, and broadening volunteer engagement.
Bamira, who has been at the helm of the agency for 17 years, cited other federation milestones at the gathering.
“We have seen dramatic growth in our endowment from under a million dollars to $10 million and millions more in the pipeline,” she said. “Our new allocations model is in place, and we will be able to better demonstrate how your dollars are used in the community.”
Bamira talked about a number of initiatives that have met with success, including programs to identify, engage, and involve the next generation of community members as well as efforts by the federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council to partner with state and national officials to ensure resources are available to care for vulnerable Holocaust survivors.
“Together we have a strong community and have demonstrated the ability to mobilize in times of great needs,” said Bamira, citing the $255,000 raised last year for Hurricane Sandy relief and the effort mounted just the week before the meeting for those devastated by the Oklahoma tornadoes.
Bamira told those gathered that she had been thinking for some time about leaving her post — effective July 1, 2014 — and felt good about her decision.
“The time is right,” said Bamira, adding that during her years in Middlesex she has been “blessed with the opportunity to have a career that has enabled me to bring together my commitment to the State of Israel, my belief that all people should be free from hunger and oppression, and my conviction that tikun olam lies at the core of Judaism’s mission.”
Bamira said she has asked Gross to put together a search committee and work with the Jewish Federations of North America to seek a replacement.
Calling her work with the federation “deeply fulfilling,” she said that when the new director is found, she will provide guidance and support during the transition.
Noting that she would “always be available to this community,” Bamira thanked the “wise, caring, and supportive” staff and volunteers who have worked beside her.
Prior to her current post, Bamira held several positions over 11 years at the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County, serving as director of its Women’s Division, community relations council, and campaign.
“My federation career in both Middlesex and Monmouth is dear to me,” she said. “I am deeply grateful for your confidence and support and the opportunity to be part of this Jewish community.”
Bamira later told NJJN that she did not know what she would do after leaving federation but would definitely not be retiring.
New officers were installed at the annual meeting. Mitchell Frumkin of Kendall Park became president-elect. Those installed for new terms were: Marilyn Goldsmith of East Brunswick and Keith Zimmerman of Kendall Park, vice presidents; and board members Jennifer Bullock of Edison, Iva Dyckman of East Brunswick, Alan Kane of North Brunswick, Naomi Lasky of Somerset, Ilana Lutman of New Brunswick, Paul Rovinsky of East Brunswick, Jeff Schwartz of Monmouth Junction, and Edward Thompson of Monroe.
New board life members were Joan Ellen of Metuchen and Sandy Lenger of Manhattan, formerly of East Brunswick.