Newark Mayor Cory Booker will be the featured guest speaker at the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks 2011 Campaign Kick-off Dinner on Sunday, Oct. 17. The dinner will be held at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrenceville.
Booker will receive the federation’s Shomer Tzedek Guardian of Justice Award “in appreciation of his stalwart support of Israel and inspirational leadership in public service.”
Federation president Lisa Smukler of Princeton said she is optimistic that the kick-off dinner will give the campaign a hearty boost.
“It’s one of the most important events of the campaign,” she said. “It’s for the major donors — those who give $500 and more — and it’s always a great occasion. It’s the first time everyone’s seeing each other after the summer and they’re looking forward to the new year — and a number of people like to make their pledges there.”
This past year was tough in terms of raising funds, she said, and federation leaders are still hoping to do better in the 2010-11 campaign. “We want to bring in new donors and inspire existing donors to give more,” she said. “We’re facing increasing needs, and we can only give out what we get in.”
Smukler is particularly looking forward to hearing Booker speak. “He is a stellar choice,” she said. “He’s very connected with the Jewish community, and he understands the value of volunteerism, of giving of oneself. And he’s a marvelous speaker.”
Booker’s connection with the Jewish community was fostered during his time as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he joined the L’Chaim Society, an interfaith organization run at the time by author and TV host Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Booker rose to become the society’s first non-Jewish president.
Addressing a Middlesex federation campaign event two years ago, Booker said, “As a non-Jew, an African-American, as mayor of Newark, and in my own personal life, I know the contributions of the Jewish community are legendary.”
Cochairs for the event are vice president for campaign Mark Merkovitz and his wife, Wendy, of Princeton Junction, and Women’s Philanthropy campaign chair Stephanie Will and her husband, Thomas, of Skillman.