As the last of the documents were signed and the champagne glasses were lifted, Max Kleinman, the executive vice president and CEO of the newly formed Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, declared, “We’re legal!”
Culminating the work of over two years, the Jewish Federation of Central NJ and United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ sealed their merger June 28 with an official signing at the Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany.
Lori Klinghoffer, who was president of MetroWest and will head the new entity, brought out a pen she had specially chosen for the signing — a large, pearly blue one from Israel, with a clip in the shape of a Torah pointer.
Complete with signatures from her and Julie Lipsett-Singer, who was president of the Central federation, and the two men who led the merger committee, Lori’s husband Steve, and Robert Kuchner from Central, the documents were ready for transmission to Trenton, for official state approval.
Jeff Shapiro, of Lowenstein Sandler, the law firm that handled the process pro bono, was on hand to make sure everything went right, and to collect the completed paperwork. “It’s really pretty straightforward,” he said. “But there were a lot of details to work out along the way, to blend these two different organizations.”
The only speech was given by Kleinman. He very briefly expressed appreciation for the hard work put in by the committee and congratulated everyone involved. “It is the largest merger of two federations ever accomplished,” he reminded them.
Gerald Cantor was serving as president of the Central federation — for the second time — when the merger process began and is regarded as one of its initiators. He insisted that others take credit for the achievement. “I acted as an executive,” he said of the Central side of the negotiations. “I looked for the best people to handle it, and left it up to them.”
Already, the two sides have shared contacts and experiences. Lori Klinghoffer and Kuchner had just returned from a mission in Israel. Kleinman chatted with Stanley Stone, who was executive vice president of Central and is now working with him as executive director of Greater MetroWest.
“So, when is our next meeting?” Kuchner called out, drawing smiles from merger committee members eager to march ahead with their unified business.