With new leadership taking the helm of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, more than 200 community members gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the last year.
Seth Gross of Highland Park was installed as president, succeeding Arlene Frumkin, at the federation’s 27th annual meeting, held June 18 at the Highland Park Conservative Temple-Congregation Anshe Emeth.
In her farewell speech Frumkin cited the accomplishments made by federation during her two-year tenure, including growing federation’s endowment to more than $9 million, despite a bad economy.
“We have a lot to be proud of,” said Frumkin. “We have instituted new programs to reach those we have not been able to reach in the past and invested in the future of our Jewish community.”
Thanking the hundreds of “devoted” staff members and volunteers, she singled out such programs as PJ Library, grants for all first-time campers, J Team teen philanthropy, special-needs programming for young adults, the Tanzman Fellows Leadership program, ConText Jewish Learning experience (see story, page 5), and Create A Jewish Legacy for endowments (see sidebar).
Those initiatives were instituted in line with the federation’s new mission statement, which was adopted unanimously.
According to the statement, the federation “brings together people, partners, and resources to fulfill the most important needs and aspirations of our community” and emphasizes care of the vulnerable, connections with Israel, and creating a more vibrant community that will inspire the next generation to embrace Jewish life.
The statement, said federation associate executive director Susan Antman, “defines in a more focused manner what we learned was important to our community through our strategic planning survey and community focus groups.”
“We now have a better vision of what we want this community to be and how we can have the most impact to ensure we create a more vibrant Jewish life for our next generation.”
Frumkin recalled the many experiences she had with federation, including her first trip to Israel in 1998 as a federation employee.
“Since 1998 I have been there at least a dozen times, all but once with federation, and can never wait to go back,” she explained. “That’s one of the things federation did for me: made Israel such an integral part of my life.”
Gross, a telecommunications lawyer, has served as chair of federation’s allocations committee, as well as assistant secretary and vice president of the board.
He and his wife, Lisa Zimmerman, have been members of the Highland Park temple for 18 years and have two children.
Gross said that over the last few months he has met with members of the rabbinic council and local agencies and visited Jewish organizations not affiliated with federation.
Such meetings, he said, “created for me an increased level of inspiration and passion.” He described the encounters with young adults, youngsters, and seniors as “visceral experiences.”
He challenged others to visit federation-supported agencies and programs “to add fuel to that fire that burns within each of us to do good, to do the right thing, and to help our fellow Jews.”
Linda Block of East Brunswick was recognized as outgoing Women’s Philanthropy copresident. She is incoming assistant secretary on the federation executive committee and cochair of the 2013 Vanguard event and serves on the national Women’s Philanthropy board.