Sheryl Grutman of Manalapan says philanthropy has defined who she is since childhood.
“We are commanded in the Torah to do mitzvot. My parents always taught me you are supposed to give back, either through time or money, and to set an example for the next generation about what’s important in life,” Grutman told NJJN.
Grutman, president of Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County, was recently selected to the National Women’s Philanthropy Board of the Jewish Federations of North America.
“Sheryl’s appointment is a wonderful recognition of her contributions in our community and at the national level,” said Monmouth federation president Stuart Abraham. “I am extremely pleased to see Sheryl carrying on our extraordinary participation on the national board. Sheryl follows in the footsteps of Elise Feldman and Wendy Marks. We are proud to have Sheryl representing us and participating at the national level.”
When Linda Horowitz, president of the National Women’s Philanthropy Board, called Grutman to ask her to join, Grutman said, she was moved to tears.
“I was so honored that my community felt I was worthy of the position and that national thought I was worthy of serving them. They don’t select a lot of people from relatively small communities like ours,” said Grutman.
Among her goals, Grutman intends to help increase public awareness of what federation does, and the importance of tikun olam, or social action, both locally and overseas.
“A lot of people still don’t understand our mission statement and how broadly federation impacts the world,” she said. “We financially support many good causes in the community, both Jewish and non-Jewish. We know that we could do so much more if we had more community involvement and support.”
Since 2008, Grutman has visited Israel six times on federation missions, the most recent of which was last month’s Heart To Heart National Women’s Philanthropy Mission to Israel.
Accompanying her on the trip, the second of its kind, was Amy Greenspan of Wayside, who said the mission enabled her to realize two dreams at once. “I wanted to get more involved with federation, and I have always wanted to visit Israel. Just being with these extraordinary women who do so much good for Israel and for Jewish causes in our own country was very empowering,” Greenspan said.
The most memorable moment for her, Greenspan said, was planting trees on a moshav near Be’er Sheva. “Since I was five years old I have been giving money to plant trees in Israel on Tu B’Shevat. To actually be able to do it myself with my own bare hands was amazing,” she said.
For Elise Feldman, board chair of the Monmouth federation, these are the kind of collective experiences she has enjoyed while serving on the National Women’s Philanthropy Board for the last 14 years. She also sits on the national advisory board.
“Sheryl has demonstrated her dedication to our mission by consistently participating in leadership missions, and now she is being recognized as a leader in her own right,” said Feldman. “She is in for a treat. Some of the best experiences I ever had in my life were working with the women on this board.”