Two women who have played a role in the success of so many Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey programs will be honored at the Main Event, on Wednesday, May 18, 6:30 p.m., at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston.
Women’s Philanthropy brought in $908,659 in 2010 — approximately 21 percent of the total campaign — from 1,554 donors. The Main Event is its foremost fund-raiser.
Marcy Lazar, a federation vice-president, will receive the Woman of Valor Award. Mara Levy, Super Sunday co-vice chair in 2010, will receive the Rhoda Rosenbach Young Leadership Award.
A resident of Westfield, Lazar previously served as the Women’s Campaign president and chair and a Main Event cochair before becoming planning and allocations chair. For the past three years she led the Yom Hashoa committee, which organizes the annual community commemoration at Kean University in Union.
Lazar also served as president of the JCC of Central New Jersey from 1997 to 1999, a position her husband, Scott, now holds. Their two children seem to be following in their parents’ footsteps as volunteers: Rachel is a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, and Max, a junior in college, will be working for the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization during the summer.
She talked to NJJN about how she views being named a Woman of Valor recipient. “I see myself at a midway point between those amazing ‘grand dame’ Woman of Valor role models who came before me, and those — like Mara — who will hopefully follow their path.
“Those senior to me laid the groundwork for me to be able to contribute to the strength of this community and World Jewry.”
Levy, also a Westfield resident, first became involved with federation when she served as cochair of the Family Matters parenting series in 2008. In 2010 she was a Main Event table hostess cochair, and then cochaired the Women’s Philanthropy Opening Event. She is a member of the federation’s executive committee and of the Women’s Philanthropy board.
Levy and her husband, Rich, have three children, Ava, Jack, and Alex.
When NJJN asked Levy to describe how she felt about her federation involvement, she e-mailed, “I feel very fortunate to…spend time with so many dedicated, hard-working, and caring women. Collectively, we should all be proud of the positive impact we’ve had on people’s lives.”
‘Sense of community’
Women active in the campaign describe the camaraderie of the Main Event, the pleasure of getting together with like-minded people for a festive gala with a serious purpose.
The chairs of the event are Lisa Israel of Westfield and Ruth Pogany of Scotch Plains. They talked with NJJN at Crystal Plaza, where they were finalizing plans for the gala. Israel has been involved with federation in a number of capacities, including cochairing the Supermarket Sweep Food Raiser that for the past three years has helped stock the kosher food pantry at Jewish Family Service of Central NJ. Last year she was the recipient of the Rhoda Rosenbach award.
Pogany is a relative newcomer. Very involved with family and friends, she said she was at first reluctant to get involved in anything else when she was asked to cochair the event. But, Pogany said, she was so moved by Israel’s acceptance speech last year that when she was told that’s who the cochair would be, “I said ‘yes’ immediately.”
The two women say that is what they want other women to “get” too. Though there is an opportunity to pledge to the 2011 Women’s Philanthropy campaign during the evening, to underline the open welcome, they have done away with the customary minimum campaign gift requirement. There is a $80 per person couvert, or $160 for those who choose to be “benefactors,” but first-timers are invited to come as guests, with the couvert covered by the Women’s Campaign.
In keeping with the commitment to make the evening a fun occasion, instead of having a keynote speaker, the committee will bring in Chicago City Limits, the popular improvisation comedy troupe, to perform.
Israel said she wants as many women as possible to have the chance to experience what the federation has to offer — the sense of community and the pleasure and satisfaction from doing good — in whatever way suits them.
She went on to say she hopes “people leave with smiles on their faces because they enjoyed Chicago City Limits and the wonderful food,” and added, “It will be an even bigger success if they leave with a better sense of community, understanding why federation does what it does, and wanting to make their own mark on things to come.”