Stanley Stone answers unexpected call
Jewish Community Foundation executive director joins American Society for Yad Vashem
Stanley H. Stone, former executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) of Greater MetroWest NJ, the planned gifts and endowments arm of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, said he was happy in that position.
“I wasn’t looking for anything,” said Stone, who also served for 19 years as executive vice president of the former Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey.
In that role, Stone spearheaded the merger in 2012 of the Central NJ federation with United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ to form the Greater MetroWest federation. As foundation head, Stone has overseen campaigns that have produced an average over seven years of $24 million and built an endowment worth $300 million.
But, said Stone, something new beckoned. “I got a call offering an opportunity I thought I couldn’t pass up.”
Stone, a Teaneck resident, left his JCF post to become the executive director of the American Society for Yad Vashem. Based in New York City, the society supports the work of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. He succeeds Dr. Ron B. Meier, who is retiring.
Stone has over 30 years of service to the Jewish community, both in New Jersey and New York. Before heading the JCF, he was federation’s senior vice president for the first four years following the merger. In 2010, he was honored with the Saul Schwarz Distinguished Service Award from the New Jersey Association of Jewish Communal Services.
“Stan’s departure is a real surprise to us,” said federation CFO Howard Rabner. “He is a person who just has a gift for making all donors and potential donors, in all areas we are involved in, comfortable immediately.”
Kim Hirsh has been appointed the new executive director of the JCF, Dov Ben-Shimon, executive VP/CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, announced on Tuesday. Hirsh has worked at the JCF for 14 years, most recently as director of the JCF’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy.
Robert Kuchner, federation’s Israel overseas chair and a former president of the Jewish Federation of Central NJ and the JCF, worked with Stone for 25 years.
“You always know where things stand as far as Stanley is concerned,” said Kuchner. “He was the one who made sure the merger happened at the time. You go to a meeting with Stanley, and you know he’ll only offer ideas that are for the good of all. He deals with people in a way nobody else seems able to.”
Stone began his new position June 12. Federation feted him at a farewell party May 30 at its headquarters on the Aidekman Jewish Community Campus in Whippany.
“To me, Yad Vashem is the soul of Israel, and people need to know that in America and elsewhere as well,” Stone told NJJN, adding that when the society “knocked on my door, I had to answer.”
The mission of Yad Vashem is to safeguard memories of the victims, pay tribute to the survivors, honor the Righteous Among the Nations, accurately document one of the most cataclysmic chapters in the history of humanity, and contend with the challenges of keeping the Holocaust relevant today and for future generations.
Stone parted a personal curtain in explaining why the society means so much to him.
“Both my parents were able to escape from Nazi Germany to Great Britain separately,” he said. “My father was held for a year in Buchenwald before he was able to get out. Luckily both my parents’ families knew some people who would sponsor them to come to Great Britain, and they escaped.”
Stone’s father served in the British Army during World War II and later met his future wife. His parents, Fred Steinberger (the British Army changed his name to Stone) and Alice Hess were married in the United Kingdom and came to the United States in 1948. They raised their family in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.
“They were lucky to get out and eventually come to the United States,” said Stone. “There were millions of others who were not so lucky. Yad Vashem recognizes those and the ones who helped others when there were few places for Jews to go.
“That is why Israel is so important to all Jews today.”
A member of Stone’s extended family understands why he’s moved from the local community to the world’s Jewish stage.
The new job “means a lot to Stan,” said Scott Krieger, Stone’s brother-in-law and president of the Greater MetroWest federation. Krieger also served as president of the JCF.
“It’s tough to lose his touch from our fund-raising efforts,” said Krieger, “but we certainly appreciate his thinking and wish him success. He has a unique way of successfully working with people.”
Stone will work at the society, which was founded in 1981, to enhance its partnership with Yad Vashem and support its efforts in the areas of commemoration, education, research, capital improvement, and special projects.
Stone is a past vice president of Torah Academy of Bergen County and a member of the ritual committee of Congregation Keter Torah, both in Teaneck. He and his wife, Ellen, are the parents of six children and several grandchildren.