The Jewish Federation of Monmouth County thanked about 100 donors who supported its 100 Days of IMPACT campaign with a gala featuring good food, good music, and good news: The campaign surpassed its goal.
The federation’s first Pacesetters event, held Aug. 18 at the Elberon Bathing Club in Long Branch, brought together donors who contributed $180 or more to the 15-week campaign.
The IMPACT drive, which ended on Aug. 15, brought in $1.017 million, exceeding its $1 million goal.
The campaign featured a different verb each week to spur action — including “sparking,” “honoring,” “empowering,” “partnering,” “advocating,” and “inspiring.”
For its general campaign, the federation is seeking to reach a total of $1.9 million by December, the end of its fiscal year. Last year’s general campaign netted $1.7 million.
“We wanted to use this as a springboard to move the campaign along faster,” said federation board chair and campaign vice president Joseph Hollander. “We wanted to showcase the kind of impact we have on people’s lives. This gave us a bit of adrenaline, so we’re very happy.”
The general campaign is running “slightly ahead” of last year, said Hollander, who put a cautionary note on the evening’s festivities by comparing it to the culmination of a Jewish wedding ceremony.
“Everyone is happy and excited, but then you get to the part where you step on the glass,” he said. “One of the interpretations is that even in happiness not everything is great.”
He warned of rising anti-Semitism in Europe and Israel’s war with Hamas, reminding the gathering that “even in our happiest moments, our community, our family, our people are sometimes in trouble.”
Federation president Sheryl Grutman noted that “as Jews we are all responsible for our brothers and sisters both locally and overseas.” She termed “phenomenal” the community reaction — 1,300 people responded — to the IMPACT campaign.
Stu Abraham, a past president of federation and current member of its executive committee, said the IMPACT drive and the current Israel Emergency Campaign demonstrate how contributions help “real people.” Donations locally assist day schools and other educational and cultural endeavors, provide aid to those in need, and fund programs that engage young people in Jewish life. Overseas they fund programs in Israel and in vulnerable Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and other places.
The event was chaired by Amy Greenspan and the mother-daughter duo of Judy Premselaar and Rachel Presser.
“It’s in our blood,” said Premselaar of Manalapan. “My grandparents were involved with federation. My parents were involved with federation. We’ve been involved with federation, and I am so excited that now my daughter will be involved with federation.”
Presser, of Wayside, said she thought “it would be a nice opportunity to support my mom and get a little bit involved in federation.”
Premselaar said federation “is all about coming together for those in need to provide rescue and safe haven and, most importantly, helping the most vulnerable.”