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NJ federations make mark at confab
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NJ federations make mark at confab

Vice President Joe Biden addresses the 2014 General Assembly.     
Vice President Joe Biden addresses the 2014 General Assembly.     

An innovative fund-raising campaign by the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County was highlighted during the annual General Assembly, the national gathering of Jewish federation leaders held last month near Washington, DC.

The campaign, known as “100 days of IMPACT,” was held up as a “Fedovation” — an example of how individual federations “are pioneering change” in their communities.

Monmouth staff members shared with fellow fund-raisers how the 15-week fund-raising campaign reaped $1.017 million, exceeding its $1 million goal. 

In addition, the Monmouth delegates “heard about other ideas for our campaign and other means of engagement in the community which we are paying attention to and looking at,” said federation executive director Keith Krivitzky.

The “GA,” sponsored by Jewish Federations of North America, serves as a leadership retreat, trade show, policy conference, and family reunion for 153 Jewish federations and over 300 “network” communities.

Held Nov. 9-12, it featured such prominent speakers as Vice President Joseph Biden, remarks via video from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a speech by actress Marlee Matlin.

It also included sessions on accommodating people with special needs in synagogues and Jewish education programs, the role of the Jewish newspaper, and the needs of the global Jewish community.

Among the new initiatives discussed were IREP, the Israel Religious Expression Platform, which will work to broaden the scope of Israeli marriage laws to include non-Orthodox rituals, and RUSH: Responding Urgently to Survivors of the Holocaust, which aims to raise $15 million a year for the next three years to benefit survivors who live beneath the poverty line. 

“It was an outstanding GA,” said Krivitzky. “The sessions were accessible to not just insiders, and they were relevant. Many people I know who attended found it to be a very powerful conference.”

Joining Krivitzky were five lay leaders from both Monmouth and the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, along with a half-dozen staff members. The two federations are expected to merge in early 2015. 

Monmouth federation presented its “100 days of IMPACT” program twice at the GA, “each time to an audience of about 200 federation personnel from all over North America,” said Monmouth’s director of marketing and communications, Lisa Karasic.

In the days before and since the GA appearance, Monmouth federation director of development Elena Herskowitz, who copresented with Karasic, said she fielded “many calls from other federations asking how they could replicate what we accomplished.”

The idea behind the 100 days of IMPACT, said Herskowitz, “was to give our campaign a boost, create a sense of urgency, and give our donors a reason to act now.”

In a Nov. 18 e-mail, Susan Antman, executive director of the Middlesex federation, told NJJN, “Attending the GA was an empowering experience, given the stature and expertise of the speakers, their accessibility, and the opportunity for professionals and volunteer leaders to network. “

Antman said one highlight was “sharing best practices and new initiatives to better address critical needs and create engaging changes to strengthen our Jewish world. The GA highlighted the purposeful work of federation leaders across the country, which was inspirational.” 

Robert Wiener contributed to this story.

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