Annual meeting marks a healthy campaign year for federation
by Enid Weiss
NJJN Staff Writer
Physician Clifton Lacy may be commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services, but at the annual meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, he could have been mistaken for a family doctor on a house call.
Lacy, the son of Holocaust survivors, offered a dose of family anecdotes and self-deprecating jokes in a keynote speech that also listed some of the states accomplishments in health care. Those included shutting down an incompetent medical laboratory, releasing public records on hospital cardiac surgery survival rates, and promoting cancer research.
His speech, mixing warm family feeling with service to those in need, seemed a fitting prescription for federations 19th annual meeting, held June 14 at Temple Bnai Shalom in East Brunswick. The meeting, which drew nearly 300 people, also honored many lay leaders for their efforts and commitment to the federation, which raises money for local Jewish health, education, and social service agencies as well as for Israel and Jewish communities around the globe.
Gerrie Bamira, federation executive director, announced that as of that morning the federation campaign had surpassed last years total, with more contributions still coming in as the 2004 campaign neared its close. Philip Cantor of North Brunswick, the campaign chair and president-elect of the federation, accepted praise for his efforts from Bamira and current federation president L Richard Wolff of Metuchen.
Wolff presented Cantor with a plaque and a wooden gragger or Purim noisemaker. Phil, you are the gragger you are the voice of the Jewish community, said Wolff. Its your phone calls and your nudging that got us over the top.
Wolff also paid tribute to the Israel Inspires committee at Rutgers Hillel for the year-long Israel Inspires program, which the federation cosponsored, at the universitys New Brunswick campus. The programs cultural and educational events were launched with a rally last fall that drew not only thousands of students but Gov. James E. McGreevey and other government leaders and hundreds of Jews who came by bus from synagogues and Jewish institutions across the state.
Jews make an impact when they think outside the proverbial box, Wolff said as he handed a plaque to Andrew Getraer, Rutgers Hillel executive director, and Roy Tanzman, a lay leader who helped spearhead the Israel Inspires campaign.
Events like Israel Inspires, the Middlesex federations Raise Our Voices for Israel concert in January, and the federations newly created Professional Networking Group happen because people refuse to take no for an answer, Wolff said.
Chairs of the networking group, Mitchell Frumkin and Keith Zimmerman of Kendall Park and Barry Wasserman of East Brunswick, were also recognized by the federation. The group drew 174 people, 58 of whom had never been to a federation event before, Cantor said as he congratulated Zimmerman on a job well done.
Shirley and Sidney Godis of Monroe were recognized for their contributions to Partnership 2000 and Ruth Ellen Fidelman Weiss of Monroe was honored for her work as outgoing Womens Division president. Other lay leaders honored were Samuel Landis of Monroe, who received the Samuel I. Hoddeson Humanitarian Award; Ann Gold of Monroe, Ruth Jacobson Woman of the Year Award; Dr. Norman Reitman of Highland Park, Seymour St. Lifer Man of the Year Award; Dr. Jeffrey Weinstein of Edison, Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation Leadership Award; Harold Levy of Perth Amboy, Presidents Award; Judi Oshinsky of East Brunswick, Klein-Belikove Young Leadership Award; Harry Bernstein of Colonia, Tzedaka Award; and Peggy Mombert, chief administrative officer of the Central New Jersey Jewish Home for the Aged in Somerset, Eshet Chayil Award.
Honored for their assistance to the federation office staff were Ruthe Goldberg, Adele Jacobs, Shirley Levinson, Harriet Rosen, Mindy Weinberger, Sara Weitz, and Thelma and Harry Zalewitz, all of Monroe.
Introducing Lacy, Wolff noted that the state official, who lives in Highland Park, is part of the local Jewish community. Apologizing to those who may have heard the story before including Rabbi Eliot Malomet of the Highland Park Conservative Temple and Center, where Lacy is a member Lacy explained how his parents came to call him Clifton.
His parents were Holocaust survivors, he said, who knew each other in Europe, were separated during the war, and met again in the United States.
They married and moved to Clifton. In appreciation for the happiness they found in their new country, Lacy said, they named him after the town.
Every day people call me Cliff, and every day Im glad they didnt settle in Nutley, he said.
On a serious note, he said his department will focus on cardiovascular health by increasing the number of hospitals that can perform angioplasty surgery, and will put defibrillator machines in police cars so that police officers can respond to cardiac emergencies.
Lacy said he also plans to add cardiopulmonary resuscitation and training in the use of an external defibrillator to state high school graduation requirements.
Enid Weiss can be reached at email@example.com.