The Queen Esther Tea this past Sunday, March 7, drew an enthusiastic turnout to the YM-YWHA of Union County for what was, in fact, a brunch with purpose.
The event — named for the heroic queen because of its proximity to Purim, and hosted by the Women’s Campaign of the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey — was initiated last year as a way to broaden the federation’s outreach. To the organizers’ satisfaction, the turnout reflected just that, with about 80 women ranging widely in age and from different areas of the community.
Shari Bloomberg of Elizabeth chaired the event. A social worker with Jewish Family Service of Central NJ and wife of the president of the Union Y, she has been very active with the federation. Last year, she received the Women’s Campaign’s Rhoda Rosenbach Young Leadership Award for her contributions to the community, and this year she cochaired the federation’s Super Sunday mega-fund-raiser.
“As many events are held in Scotch Plains, we wanted to have something that was based in this area,” she said; the Y is in Union, just over the border from Elizabeth. The venue, she said, was chosen, in part, “to show appreciation for the Elizabeth community’s participation in federation’s campaign and its programming.”
The event was envisaged as a “morning out” for women. The guest speaker was tidiness guru Stacey Agin Murray. Bloomberg said, “We chose organizing as a theme since it’s a universal subject to the many different, diverse women who attend the event.”
The opening d’var Torah was given by Adina Abramov, the federation’s director of communications and marketing, who — like Bloomberg — is Orthodox and an Elizabeth resident. Abramov drew a parallel between the work done by the women supporters of the federation and the acts of benevolence and reverence that unified the Jews of Persia in the wake of Queen Esther’s bid to save them from the evil Haman.
“This event today shows that even with our differences, we’re all one people and one community,” Abramov told the assembled women. “It’s our mandate as Jews to be a light unto all nations, and our mandate as women to illuminate the way for the continuity of our people and the traditions of hesed, loving-kindness.”
The participants heard Women’s Campaign chair Maxine Schwartz talk about the impact of the federation’s work and the campaign’s annual highlight, the Main Event, which will take place this year on Wednesday, May 5. They went on to enjoy an omelet brunch catered by Jerusalem Restaurant and then get decluttering tips from Murray. They went home laden — hopefully not with clutter — but with some of the organizational tools she favors, like note pads and colored garbage bags for separating what to keep and what to cast out.
“It was very festive,” Bloomberg said with evident satisfaction. “Things went really well.”