Dov Ben-Shimon signed a contract on July 24 confirming his appointment as CEO/executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
Ben-Shimon will assume his new position on Sept. 2, succeeding 19-year veteran Max Kleinman, who is retiring.
Ben-Shimon signed the three-year contract in a conference room on the Aidekman campus in Whippany; in attendance were Kleinman, federation president Leslie Dannin Rosenthal, and immediate past president Lori Klinghoffer.
“I am excited, I am very humbled, and I am very grateful for this opportunity,” the British-born chief executive told NJ Jewish News as he looked up from his new contract.
Ben-Shimon, who lives in Fanwood, is currently executive director for strategic partnerships for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Since he moved to New Jersey seven years ago, he has been the JDC’s liaison to the federation and is familiar with many of its functions.
Kleinman, a Livingston resident, will serve as CEO emeritus until Oct 31. In that capacity, and after Ben-Shimon moves into the CEO’s office in Whippany, Kleinman will spend most of his time at the federation regional office on the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains.
The federation funds multiple initiatives in Israel and other global Jewish communities, and allocates funds to a network of 27 local partner agencies providing social services and Jewish educational, vocational, and recreational programs. The last fiscal year, which ended June 30, the federation raised more than $22 million in unrestricted funds and over $1.5 million in supplementary giving. An Israel Emergency Campaign initiated at the start of Israel’s current operation in Gaza is approaching $1 million in contributions.
In an interview minutes before the contract signing, Ben-Shimon told NJJN, “There will be a widened federation presence throughout the community as well, as we build on the legacy of Max and what we’ve done here.”
He said he plans to begin his new job by focusing on three main areas. “I want to work with our professionals and leadership on expanding our Jewish values, so we can increase the passion we have for the federation.”
His second aim, Ben-Shimon said, is “to expand the donor base and the campaign and revitalize the leadership and empower them to spread the message of what we do.”
And, he continued, “I want to deepen our connections with our incredible agencies in the community and make sure that we as a federation can be responsive to their needs as they reach out to deepen the Jewish values of our community.”
Asked to define what he meant by “Jewish values,” he said, “What we are looking for in the federation is to increase the number of Jews doing Jewish things Jewishly with other Jews, however we and our agencies define them, and to increase the number and the quality of Jewish activities and touch points in our community.”
In the weeks since his appointment was announced, Ben-Shimon has visited a number of federation partner agencies, including the Jewish Family Service of MetroWest and and Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey, JCC MetroWest and the JCC of Central New Jersey, and the YM-YWHA of Union County. The visits, he said, “showed me the vibrancy and vitality of these agencies” and reinforced the importance of “the conversations we need to have with our agencies, our synagogues, and our schools.”
Asked what advice he might offer to his successor, Kleinman said, “Dov is really blessed with having a tradition of past presidents and campaign chairs and leaders who don’t walk away after their terms are up. I think it is great that he is positioning himself for success with Leslie in the coming years.”
“We have a really smooth and thoughtful transition of professional leadership,” said Dannin Rosenthal.
Klinghoffer said the transition in leadership will be a seamless one. “This community that is so beloved to me is in the best of hands,” she said.