New federation president: a skilled fund-raiser with drive to help others
West Windsor resident Jerry Neumann served as The Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks campaign chairman the past two years, growing contributions 5 percent annually during his tenure.
Now Neumann, the senior trust and fiduciary specialist in the Wells Fargo Private Bank division in Philadelphia, will utilize those skills and his passion for helping those in need as the incoming federation president.
“Jerry’s involvement in various Jewish organizations and the positions he has held in them gives him a broad and balanced perspective of our community,” said Mark Merkovitz, federation’s executive director. “This resume has prepared him well for his presidency and leading federation over the next two years.”
Neumann told NJJN the nominating committee asked him to accept the role of president. “The motivation came from them,” he said. “I have been involved for 25 to 30 years and it was time to say ‘yes.’ It’s my way of giving back.” Neumann is a member of The Jewish Center, a Conservative congregation in Princeton.
Neumann will assume his new role at the federation’s annual meeting on Sept. 10 at The Jewish Center.
“I look forward to working with, and learning from, Jerry during his tenure,” said Merkovitz.
For Neumann, he said the biggest challenge in the coming year will be providing for those in need.
“Requests from those in need always exceed what we have,” he said. “We will do more with limited resources. … I do think it is important for the federation to continue relevancy and provide all things to all people.”
He praised the work of the Yvette Sarah Clayman Kosher Food Pantry at Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS). “It’s one of the primary agencies we support, that and Meals on Wheels,” Neumann said. “Poor translates to hungry and needy. We are doing what we can do to help them.”
Neumann said he also values the federation-supported programs for young people, whom he calls “the future of the Jewish community.”
“We have multi-faceted programs for our youth,” he said, citing partners such as PJ Library, Jewish Community Youth Foundation, Birthright Israel, Abrams Hebrew Academy, and the JCC Abrams Camp in East Windsor. Enrollment has increased at the camp and for Neumann, camps are a prime contributor to the perpetuation of Jewish life.
“They are alternate portals for all things Jewish for people who are not affiliated as Jews,” Neumann said, adding that many camp families are secular.
He said federation has an important role to play in protecting the community during a time of rising anti-Semitism. “The second calling of the federation is as community conveyer, addressing the needs of the community with the rise of anti-Semitism,” said Neumann. “This brings in the issue of increased need of security for Jewish institutions, facilitating grant funding, or seminars. Our doors are still open, but not in the same sense of the word.”
He praised Merkovitz, the federation’s board of directors, and staff members in their quest to meet the financial needs of the community.
“It’s a team effort, with Mark and an excellent board of directors, with all that we do,” Neumann said. “I certainly can’t do it alone.”
Neumann grew up in Phoenixville, Pa., and said his parents served as his inspiration, having been leaders in the small town’s single Conservative synagogue. His father, Leonard, who owned Neumann’s Furniture in Phoenixville, died in 2010 and his mother, Shirley, lives in Audubon, Pa.
He is married to Naomi Richman Neumann, who received federation’s Woman of Valor Award in 2018. A past board member of Women’s Division, Richman Neumann was instrumental in developing the Women’s Philanthropy Cocktails and Conversation program. She also served on the board of JFCS.
The Neumanns have two adult sons, Daniel, 29, who lives in New York, and Benjamin, 26, in Los Angeles.