Music composed by Holocaust-era composers formed the centerpiece of the May 2 spring luncheon of the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks Women’s Philanthropy.
About 150 women attended the event at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrenceville. The luncehon honored supporters of Women’s Philanthropy and featured a performance, by the MOTÝL Chamber Ensemble, of seven pieces created between 1936 and 1944 by composers —including Hans Krása and Viktor Ullman — who were incarcerated by the Nazis.
“It’s from the music of the past that we connect to the future,” Spring Luncheon cochair Nadine Singer told attendees. “We have a responsibility to speak for those who don’t have a voice and to share the spirit of federation with our community.”
Honorees included 2013 Woman of Valor Marsha Kessler Freeman and 2013 Young Leadership Award winner Shari Blecher.
A Princeton resident, Freeman has been active with the federation since the 1980s, serving as Women’s Campaign chair in 1996-97, president of Women’s Philanthropy in 1998-99, and currently as a member of the federation executive committee.
She also volunteers at Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Greater Mercer County and has served on the board of The Jewish Center of Princeton.
Blecher moved to Princeton in 2006. She is associate campaign chair of Women’s Philanthropy and has served on several Spring Luncheon committees. She is also involved with issues relating to U.S.-Israel relations.
“Today is very special and I’m truly honored and very blessed to be part of this community for over 40 years,” Freeman told NJJN. “We’ve made wonderful friends along the way and have been very fortunate in our lives to have been able to give back to our Jewish community. Through Women’s Philanthropy, it’s been wonderful to meet so many people and learn what’s important to them and to work with and for federation — it’s opened a whole new vista of opportunity.”
“I’m humbled by the honor today,” Blecher told NJJN, “and I look forward to continuing to promote Jewish causes, support Israel, and work to ensure that what happened during the Holocaust never happens again.”
The luncheon included a raffle of over a dozen themed baskets as well as a presentation by Lisa Smukler, past federation president, who was among a group of 35 who recently returned from a trip to visit the Jewish community in Cuba.
“The Jewish community there is in need,” siad Smukler. While she noted that the Cuban government doesn’t interfere with Jewish interests, “the Jewish community in Cuba is able to get by thanks to the support of U.S. Jewish federations like ours.”
“This is a day of sisterhood, friendship, and philanthropy,” said Paula Joffe, director of Women’s Philanthropy. “We come together for this annual event to celebrate the community of women who are dedicated to giving of themselves to make the lives of others better.”
“This luncheon is an enjoyable way to meet women in the area, be part of the greater Jewish community, and hear interesting speakers,” said Belle Mead resident Abby Knuckey. “It’s a good cause and I’m happy to be here.”