Federation ‘kvells’ about year’s endeavors
Rabbi Michelle Pearlman and federation executive director Keith Krivitzky chats shortly before the announcement that she has been hired as federation’s new staff director of community engagement.
Photos by Alan Richman
July 1, 2013
The Jewish Federation of Monmouth County celebrated four major initiatives as leaders gathered for its annual meeting in Long Branch.
Keith Krivitzky, federation executive director, told officers, board members, award winners, and guests that the June 18 meeting was an opportunity to “kvell a little” about the year’s accomplishments.
Among these are Jersey Shore House, where young Jewish adults can celebrate Shabbat, bond with other Jews, and perform community service to aid victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Krivitsky said that for the second year in a row, the federation’s adVENTURE fund would dispense seed money for new, innovative ideas. Launched in 2012, adVENTURE provides grants from $500 to $3,000 for projects that range from a Jewish music festival at the Jersey shore to an intergenerational Hanukka celebration for Holocaust survivors.
The fourth initiative calls for the hiring of Rabbi Michelle Pearlman as its first director of community engagement. Krivitzky said part of her mission will be to help the 70,000-plus Jews of Monmouth County navigate through the dozens of organizations, including synagogues, that offer programs and services each year.
Pearlman, who is currently religious leader at Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, will take up her new position Aug. 1. “Rabbi Pearlman will help people connect the dots,” Krivitsky said.
Sheryl Grutman, who succeeds Joe Hollander as federation president, also spoke about “connections” in her inaugural speech.
“My vision for federation over the next two years is that we act as the mechanism inspiring more members of the Monmouth County Jewish community to become involved in and connected to Jewish life,” said Grutman. “Our organization should be the catalyst and enabler, helping our many partners meet the needs of Jews both locally and overseas.”
Grutman, a 56-year-old Manalapan resident, is the owner of A2Z Inc., a firm specializing in promotional products. She is the mother of three adult children — Pamela, 29, a law student; Jonathan, 27, a CPA; and Adam, 25, working this summer as a counselor at a JCC camp in Florida.
In an interview conducted prior to the annual meeting, Grutman told NJJN, “I was raised by parents who taught me the importance of giving back to those in need.”
Involved with federation since 2004, she was most recently the organization’s vice president of Women’s Philanthropy.
Grutman, who has the Lion of Judah distinction reserved for women who have made a financial commitment of at least $5,000 to federation, said she understands the need to attract smaller contributions.
“We need to cultivate and appreciate $18 donors as well as major donors,” she said. “Everyone can play a part. And, over time, some of those smaller donors may become much bigger donors.”
At the meeting, Hollander expressed his conviction that federation’s greatest challenge is to help make Jews — “Jews who understand who we are and why we are a people bound by faith, with a positive message for each other and the world.”
Hollander also recapped some of federation’s accomplishments during his two-year term, including the hiring of Krivitzky as executive director, an extensive overhaul of the staff, a new approach to the annual Super Sunday phonathon, federation-sponsored visits to Israel by about 130 people, and Birthright trips by hundreds of young adults.
Changing of the guard
THE ANNUAL MEETING was marked by the installation of a new slate of federation officers, as well as numerous changes in the board.
Following two years in office, Joe Hollander stepped down as president and now assumes a dual role as board chair and campaign vice president.
The new president is Sheryl Grutman, who had been serving as vice president of Women’s Philanthropy.
Other incoming officers include: Ken Philmus, vice president of community engagement; Bob Gutman, vice president of philanthropy and impact; Cheryl Markbreiter, treasurer; Judy Premselaar, secretary; and Lauren Reich and Stu Abraham, members-at-large.
In addition to Hollander, Grutman, Philmus, Premselaar, Markbreiter, and Abraham, all of whom stay on in new positions, outgoing officers include Stephanie Ackerman, Albert Bloomfield, Jonathan Barofsky, Arnold Gelfman, and Bob Mack.
There are 11 new board members, each of whom will serve two years: Amy Mallet, Jonathan Barofsky, Albert Bloomfield, Judy Boim, Michelle Fields, Sheryl Horowitz, Laurie Landy, Louisa and Marc Liechtung, Nina Premselaar, and Elly Rosenthal.
In addition, the following current board members will continue to serve for one more year: Jeff Donner, Rick Isaacson, Bobbi Krantz, Beth Kinsky, Joel Kinsky, Rhonda Levy, Toby Shylit Mack, Jerry Marks, Debbie Rettig, Todd Katz, Robin Wander, Alan Winters, and Mindy Wiser-Estin.
— ALAN RICHMAN
Women honored for community service
AT THE JUNE 18 meeting, awards recognizing years of dedicated service to the Jewish community of Monmouth County went to four women engaged in education and social work.
• Susan Rishty, an educator at Hillel Yeshiva in Ocean Township, received the 2013 Grinspoon/Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education in Monmouth County. Elise Feldman, a federation past president, made the presentation, praising Rishty’s leadership style, which “fuels the energy of the teachers surrounding her,” and added that her “passion and dedication” are reflected in programs that she creates for elementary and middle-school grades.
• Feldman called Rachel Weitzenkorn of the Rabbi Jacob Friedman School of Jewish Studies at Congregation Torat El in Oakhurst “the type of educator that is a dream come true for any education director.” Weitzenkorn was named the 2013 Supplementary School Teacher of Excellence in Monmouth County. A social worker as well as a teacher, she was cited for blending both disciplines following catastrophic events like the recent shooting incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Weitzenkorn made herself available to all the other teachers to help students needing special attention.
• The Outstanding Service Award went to Amy Dorfman, who began working at Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Monmouth County in 1993 as a geriatric social worker and now, 20 years later, is the agency’s director of programs and services, with oversight for a dozen different activities.
• Barbara Marshall, who won the Mel Cohen Award for Outstanding Professional, has been with Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Monmouth County since the agency’s formation 37 years ago. Starting as an administrative assistant, she has seen the staff grow from just two people to today’s roster of 27. For the past six years, Marshall has been director of agency operations, with responsibility for all business operations and the annual tribute dinner.
Arnold Gelfman was also a winner, recipient of the Janet and William Schwartz Community Leadership Award. Outgoing federation president Joe Hollander lauded Gelfman for “47 years of continuous involvement in leadership roles serving the Jewish community,” including more than three decades with federation.
— ALAN RICHMAN