The Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey has announced not just one, but two Main Events for 2015.
The gala dinners will be the first activities of their kind since the January merger of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County and the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County.
The two Main Events also mark the official launch of federation’s 2015 “100 Days of Impact” campaign. Last year, the inaugural Monmouth County “100 Days” effort brought the campaign to more than $1 million in just under 15 weeks.
This year, with participation from the combined populations of Middlesex and Monmouth, federation management expects to exceed that goal.
The Monmouth Main Event will be held at a new location — Addison Park in Aberdeen. Last year’s capacity attendance of 535 precipitated the move from Congregation Magen David in Ocean, said Jodi Katz of Manalapan, one of three cochairs for the annual banquet and awards ceremony. “We’d outgrown the space, and needed a larger hall,” she said.
The glatt kosher affair will be prepared and served by Zami Caterers of Brooklyn.
“This year, we will recognize 15 Monmouth women for exemplary community service, not 26 as we did last year,” said cochair Vicki Portman of Holmdel. “We limited the number in order to be able to give more time to telling each one’s story.”
Marjorie Wold of Colts Neck is the third cochair.
“These are women who have made an impact in our community, at synagogues, Jewish day schools, helping special-needs children, raising funds for medical research and supporting Jewish federation,” said Women’s Philanthropy cochair Robin Wander of Bradley Beach.
(Click here for a list of honorees.)
The featured speaker at the Monmouth Edition is Caryl M. Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and author of I Believe in ZERO: Learning from the World’s Children (St. Martin’s Press, 2013).
Emphasizing that “17,000 children die every day from causes we know how to prevent and could prevent apart from lack of funding,” Stern stressed that UNICEF embodies Jewish values like tikun olam (repairing the world).
In the past year alone, she said, the UN agency responded to more than 280 emergencies, including five major sectors simultaneously — in the Central African Republic, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, and west Africa, site of the Ebola outbreak.
“As a Jewish woman and mother, I always carry my family’s history and the women and children I’ve met in the field with me. These memories and experiences remind me that if you save a life, you save the world,” said Stern.
The Main Event, Middlesex Edition, will be held at the Zimmerli Art Museum on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick.
Guest speaker Heather Thomson, of Bravo’s Real Housewives of New York City, is expected to discuss her role as an activist for organ donation. Her son Jax received a liver transplant as a baby, and she is a board member of the Kellner Liver Foundation.
In addition to her role on the reality show, she is founder and chief compliance officer of fashion brand Yummie by Heather Thomson.