Aaron Rosenfeld, executive director of the JCC of Greater Monmouth County, is stepping down later this month after nearly 10 years with the agency.
Rosenfeld has accepted the executive director position at the JCC of Omaha in Nebraska. He will leave the Monmouth JCC in Deal on June 24 and will begin his new position in July.
Rosenfeld, who grew up in Interlaken, was a lifetime JCC member and volunteer, as well as an active board member before he left his law career to join the JCC executive staff as assistant director in 2001. He was named executive director in 2009.
In a memo to colleagues, Rosenfeld wrote that making the decision to leave the JCC and the Monmouth community was difficult.
“My ties to this community run very deep,” he said. “I care immensely about the community and believe strongly in its vibrant future. The JCC has a great team of hard-working staff and dedicated, community-minded leadership who will need everyone’s support to carry on the good work and important mission of the JCC.
“While I am sad to be leaving my friends, family, and community, I am confident that with your help, the JCC will thrive in the coming years. I thank you for the opportunity to serve this wonderful and unique community.”
Rosenfeld’s resignation comes at a pivotal point in the JCC’s long history as it struggles to steer itself out of financial difficulties, said JCC president Stephen Levy of West Deal.
“Aaron was very dedicated to the JCC, and should be commended for the long, hard hours and many nights and weekends he put in. He always did a good job for us, and I would have liked to continue on with him as we begin to emerge from crisis mode,” Levy said. “But I understand his decision and wish him well in his new position.”
The JCC board is in the process of hiring an interim director to temporarily replace Rosenfeld until an executive director is appointed, Levy told NJJN. Three candidates are currently being considered for the interim position, all of whom are local professionals with business or organizational backgrounds who are “familiar with the complex community we serve,” he said.
The board is making plans to restructure the existing staff and resolve critical building maintenance issues, including the repair of a gym roof that collapsed during a December snowstorm, Levy said.
“The JCC board of directors and the board of governors are both committed to working tirelessly to achieve a positive solution to our current challenges. The JCC remains the center of the Jewish community, and we expect that it will remain so, far into the future.”
‘Enthusiasm and expertise’
Rosenfeld stood out as a JCC lay leader long before his actual employment there began, said Arnie Gelfman of Ocean Township, JCC’s senior vice president.
“Even after he became a lawyer, it became clear that what Aaron loved most was the JCC. As a board member, he spent more time preparing the JCC to host the 2001 JCC Maccabi Games than the paid staff,” Gelfman said. “His heart was always totally immersed in the JCC, and it was no surprise when he opted to leave law for the JCC.”
Gelfman describes Rosenfeld as a kind and caring individual. “Those characteristics will stand him in good stead in Omaha. The headaches we have with JCC funding are not going to be the same headaches he is going to have in Omaha, so he can focus more on JCC programming,” he said.
Rosenfeld, 43, will bring with him to Omaha the same philosophy that has motivated him through his years at the JCC in Deal, he told NJJN. “Without a JCC, we are just a community of Jews, but with a JCC, we are truly a Jewish community,” he said. “The position in Omaha is an opportunity for me to continue to grow professionally, and to bring my enthusiasm and expertise to another Jewish community.”
Although Omaha has only 6,000 Jews compared to the estimated 70,000 in Monmouth County, the city boasts a vibrant Jewish infrastructure, Rosenfeld said. The JCC of Omaha is situated on a campus that also houses the Jewish Federation of Omaha, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, and the regional office of the Anti-Defamation League, as well as senior residences and a Jewish preschool and day school.
Rosenfeld, his wife, Judy, and their children, Daniel, 10, and Linda, five, leave behind many friends from the numerous organizations with which they are affiliated, including Congregation Brothers of Israel in Elberon; Congregation Bnai Israel religious school in Toms River, where Judy is educational director; and their children’s schools, JCC’s Center Play School and the Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore.
“I know that despite being a three-hour plane ride away,” Rosenfeld said, “we will continue to grow together as friends and as partners in serving our communities.”