April 2021

  • 23,928

    April 14
    he transition is always hard for me – the transition each year from mourning to celebration. From commemorating fallen soldiers and civilians on Yom HaZikaron to immediately celebrating Israel Independence on Yom Ha’Atzmaut.

March 2021

  • A Testimony to the Power of Collaboration

    March 26
    The other day I ordered a car windshield breaker on Amazon – a simple and handy tool that can break the glass in your car in an emergency. And when it arrived in the mail, I was curious, so I looked to see who sent it.

  • No More Lost Time

    March 24
    I recently heard a survivor say that they had lost their childhood to the Nazis and the last year of their lives to the pandemic. It was all we needed to hear to help these survivors not lose any more time.

February 2021

  • A New Appreciation for Inclusion

    February 24
    As we approach the end of February, Jewish communities around the world have taken time to honor Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). In its 13th year, JDAIM helps to raise awareness and foster the acceptance and meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities and mental health conditions and their families, across the Jewish community.

  • The “Big 5” of Global Connections: Part IV

    February 24
    The main attraction of a safari is to watch the wild animals in their natural habitat. The local guides always set a highly ambitious goal on the first day: “If we are lucky enough,” they would dramatically state, “understanding the lay of the land and keeping an optimistic spirit, we will be able to see the Big 5....

January 2021

December 2020

  • The “Big 5” of Global Connections: Part III

    December 16
    The main attraction of a safari is to watch the wild animals in their natural habitat. The local guides always set a highly ambitious goal on the first day: “If we are lucky enough,” they would dramatically state, “understanding the lay of the land and keeping an optimistic spirit, we will be able to see the Big 5...

November 2020

  • The “Big 5” of Global Connections: Part II

    November 18
    The main attraction of a safari is to watch the wild animals in their natural habitat. The local guides always set a highly ambitious goal on the first day: “If we are lucky enough,” they would dramatically state, “understanding the lay of the land and keeping an optimistic spirit, we will be able to see the Big 5...

August 2020

  • Pulling Off the Near-Impossible

    August 26
    Like so many concerned parents and citizens, I have watched the conversations about school reopening unfold throughout the summer. Parents who are overwhelmed and overburdened, concerned teachers, school principals and superintendents, and lawmakers have all been weighing in.

July 2020

June 2020

  • We’re Helping Feed NJ Families in Need

    June 17
    For the past six weeks, my husband and I have been volunteering once or twice a week with IsraAID, an Israel based international non-governmental organization in its efforts to assist with COVID-19 relief.

May 2020

April 2020

  • Empty Gestures

    April 1

    I’ve heard a lot of talk these past few weeks about “empty” social media gestures. It’s true that showing solidarity by applauding healthcare workers at a set time, or thanking them in Facebook posts, does create positive feeli...

  • From Slavery to Freedom: Passover in Quarantine

    April 1
    I know that it’s on everyone’s mind. I know that it’s being discussed in homes all across the United States, Israel, and around the world. It’s out there and it’s coming quickly – the annual celebration from slavery to freedom – ...

March 2020

  • Federations Do Not Close

    March 18
    The other day I walked out of our Federation building deeply depressed. I know that closing the building was the right thing. I know that it’s important and necessary and justified.

  • A Matter of Trust

    March 18
    For the past few days, I have been relating what the entire world is going through now to what that the world faced in the 1930s and 1940s. There certainly are obvious connections. Most notably, there’s the concept of survival.

February 2020

  • Mightily Blessed

    February 4
    There is a deep and wide and strong stream of rational thought flowing through centuries of Jewish discourse that eschews superstition, omens, amulets, and incantations.

January 2020

  • Access and Influence

    January 22
    This was my Shabbat message last week: In the small section of if the Talmud known as Pirke Avot we read:
    ‎וְאַל תִּתְוַדַּע לָרָשׁוּת
    Do not attempt to draw near to...

December 2019

  • Increasing in Matters of Holiness

    December 23
    There’s a fascinating debate in the Talmud, in Tractate Shabbat, between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai. The question that they’re debating is to how to light the chanukiya, the menorah that we use for Hanukkah.

  • There’s a "Here" Here

    December 19
    For as long as our collective memory can recall, we have been playing dreidel, winning and losing according to the letters on the four-sided top with the nun (nes), gimel (gadol), hey (haya) and shin (sham) — a Great Miracle Happened There.

  • Make the Most of Your Year-End Charitable Giving

    December 11
    With the end of the 2019 tax year fast approaching and the stock market at or near record highs, now is a great time to use your appreciated securities to open—or add to—a donor-advised fund (DAF) with our Jewish Community Foundation (JCF).

  • Seasons Greeting – from Auschwitz?

    December 11
    I spend a whole lot of time blogging, posting, and speaking about when things are either anti-Semitic or insulting to the memory of the Holocaust, or just outright wrong and a perpetuation of hatred.

November 2019

  • The Thanks-givers

    November 26
    We are thanks-givers. Our very name, Yehudim (Jews), refers to Jacob’s son, Judah, one of the few remaining tribes from which most of us are descended. Judah’s name was conferred by his mother, our matriarch Leah, who said, “Thank God, for this child.”

  • Our Family is Under Fire

    November 13
    As you are probably aware, there has been a major flare-up in violence between Israel and Gaza in the last couple of days. Here are the major points, from our national Jewish Federations team in Israel:

October 2019

September 2019

  • Soothe the Sting, Savor the Sweet

    September 25
    The honey on our Rosh Hashanah tables that quickly gets messy from all of us dipping apples, challah, or what-have-you to symbolize our wishes for a sweet New Year comes from a bee that stings.

  • A Visit Is Worth a Million Words!

    September 5
    I’ve said it in these pages many times – there’s nothing, and I mean literally nothing like taking a Federation mission to experience the passion and dedication the Jewish community has for taking care of our own – whether locally, in Israel, or in the far corners of the wo...

August 2019

  • Being Holy

    August 14
    I’m so proud of the amazing Greater MetroWest participation in the annual summer family camp in Cherkassy, Ukraine.

  • Heritage

    August 7
    I’ve spoken and written often about the so-called birthright of a child, grandchild, or even great-grandchild of a Holocaust survivor. In many cases, it’s ingrained upon these subsequent generations to continue to pave a path of remembrance, recollection, and education.

  • This Choice Rests with Us

    August 1
    I just received a message from our friends at The Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School that Cantor Shimon Vogel needs a kidney, Blood Type A+.

July 2019

  • July 16, 2001

    July 24
    What did YOU do on July 16, 2001? You probably don’t remember. Most likely, you had yet another ordinary summer day. Yet, for some people, this day means a lot. It could have been a life changer, perhaps even a lifesaver for them.

  • In Memory of Rita Waldor z”l

    July 10
    I was visiting Kehilat Ra’anan a couple of days before Rita passed. I was there with our new Global Connections team members in order to tell the story of the place, which correlates with the legacy of our community – a legacy in which Rita plays an important part.

June 2019

  • Why Should I Give?

    June 24
    “Why should I give to you?” she asked. “I give to the charities I like here at home. Sometimes I give to Israeli things I like too. Why should I give to you as well?”

  • For Cecille

    June 19
    My friend and colleague, Cecille Asekoff, after 40 years of dedicated service, was celebrated at her retirement this week. Among family, colleagues and friends, we showed our gratitude for her achievements, her vision, and her energy.

May 2019

  • When Was the Last Time You Pulled an All-Nighter?

    May 29
    Saturday night June 8 is the first night of Shavuot, which commemorates our receiving the Torah. For hundreds of years this first night has been established as a Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a time to delve deeply into her wisdom.

  • Greater than the Sum of Our Parts

    May 20
    We’re trying something new this year! In previous years, spring was the season for annual meetings here at Federation – Women’s Philanthropy, Jewish Community Foundation, Global Connections, and, of course, Federation.

  • Seeking Out My Brothers and Sisters

    May 13
    I had an amazing meeting the other day with some 15 Orthodox Israeli leaders. This past year, our Jewish Federation invested in a leadership program in the religious-Zionist Orthodox community in Israel.

April 2019

  • A Real-Life Lesson on Freedom

    April 29
    It is Sunday night, and as I crawl into bed, I am easily drawn to reflecting on what we did over the past few days. There were soccer and lacrosse games, band practices, plans with friends, a birthday party, and the ending of Passover and thankfully eating some bread and then turning my kitchen back.

  • Goodness in Times of Evil

    April 24
    This is not a Jewish story. But it’s something I need to share. And it’s been on my mind since my recent trip to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where I had coffee with Viktor Alekseyevich. Viktor is not Jewish.

  • The Fifth Tribe Has Not Yet Really Spoken

    April 15
    The results of the Israeli general elections are clear cut. “The tribe has spoken.” The Israeli democracy, despite all its faults, is producing for us a distinct reflection of the Israeli society and its choices.

  • Remember the Brave Fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto at Your Seder

    April 10
    It was the eve of Passover, April 19, 1943. Instead of sitting around a seder table, as many of us will do on the same date this year, a small makeshift army of Jews began what would become a three-week battle against the heavily armed German forces that were attempting the last liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

  • The Passover Seder—A Curated Conversation

    April 10
    A few years ago, I had the privilege of reading Jewish plays for a competition. In doing so, I learned a great deal about the layout of scripts: the differences between stage directions and dialogue, scene descriptions and notes of emphasis.

  • No, We Cannot Stand Idly By

    June 11
    As protests continue across the U.S., many of us have become more than just silent witnesses to history. In dozens of communities across our area, families and individuals have been standing up and speaking out, expressing pain and sorrow over the senseless killing of another black man by police and the ongoing injustices that plague our country.

March 2019

  • Please, Stop and Think

    March 26
    From an early age, we tell our children: Choose your words carefully… Think before you speak… Don’t say something that could hurt someone else… and many more similar lessons. If you have ever parented or taught a young child, I’m sure you have found yourself in a situation in which you have had to tell a child not to say somet...

  • Communicate the Unknowable

    March 26
    For some time now, our Jewish Federation has been working with community rabbis, as well as synagogue administrators and leaders. We provide educational sessions to improve skill sets like event planning and fundraising, and seminars to explore common interests like dues models and synagogue innovations.

  • Celebrating Us

    March 19
    You’ll definitely want to join me at LIVE365, and here’s why… First, my dedicated, inspiring colleague, Brian Eglash, will be speaking. Brian is a senior professional at the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh as well as a congregant at the Tree of Life synagogue.

  • Jewish Values

    March 19
    It’s probably a bit unfair, but whenever I hear the expression “Jewish values,” my ears twitch a little. That’s because I think, for the most part, people equate “Jewish” values with ethical, Western v...

  • A Beloved Teacher

    March 8
    If you’ve ever heard Dr. Erica Brown speak, you know that she’s amazing – and you’ve already signed up to hear her at our upcoming Synagogue Leadership Seminar on Sunday, March 31.

February 2019

  • Tolerance and Dialogue in Israel

    February 26
    If you’re reading the news from Israel, you’ll see a lot of grappling, especially in the religious Zionist sector, about the decision of the “Jewish Home” party to join forces with extreme-right Kahanists.

  • Why Show Up?

    February 19
    Given that I work in the field of Holocaust Education, I am often asked a great deal of “why” questions. Why did something as horrific as the Holocaust happen?

  • Values and Valuables

    February 15
    More than 60 of our Greater MetroWest snowbirds gathered this week in a beautiful private home in Boca Raton, Florida for a wonderful evening.

  • Talk Less, Do More

    February 13
    We are all connected. That’s why I went to Puerto Rico last week with seven other Greater MetroWest community leaders.

January 2019

  • Rays of Light

    January 17
    This week I saw the power of women and how they repair the world. I saw inspiration. I saw our magnificent past, present, and future leadership come together to celebrate that power.

  • Speaking Up for Our Shared Values

    January 15
    Next Saturday, January 19, hundreds of thousands of women and men across the country will take to the streets once again for the third annual National Women’s March.

December 2018

  • Lakh

    December 11
    In some Asian cultures, the number 100,000 is uniquely special. It’s important. It even has its own word – usually some version of the sound “lakh.”

November 2018

  • A Holy Space Defiled

    November 13
    Today I sat in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. And I prayed. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the awful sight of bullet holes inside a sanctuary.

  • A Real Big Hug

    November 13
    As I write this, almost 300 rockets were launched from Gaza to Israel within 15 hours. One hit Kibbutz Erez around 6 a.m. this morning. No one was hurt.

  • Why Newark?

    November 6
    I am often met with blank stares when I explain what I do as Federation’s coordinator for Jewish Educational and Cultural Programming in Newark. These faces are often followed by the question Why?

October 2018

  • We Don’t Do These Things Alone

    October 30
    More than 2,000 community members came together on Sunday morning at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston to mourn and grieve the loss of eleven beautiful souls at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

August 2018

  • Torah with Dov

    August 24
    “It seems kinda simple,” I said to our Chief Jewish Learning Officer, Robert Lichtman. “We’re a Jewish organization. I’m the CEO of a Jewish organization. We should at least try a little Jewish learning here at home.”

  • In Support of Our Druze Friends

    August 10
    I am continually awed by the dedication and commitment of our amazing Greater MetroWest community leaders. I am proud to share with you the following letter to Isaac Herzog, the newly elected chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, penned by our own Lori Klinghoffer.

  • Achi Israeli – My Brother Israeli

    August 7
    Achi Israeli is a program operated by our Federation and funded through a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation. It speaks directly to our Kedma agenda of promoting shared and cohesive society in Israel.

July 2018

  • Eternal and Unconditional Love

    July 19
    A steady flame burned upon the large sacrificial altar within the Jerusalem Temple. That flame lent itself to every one of the thousands of sacrifices offered on that altar. Some sacrifices were modest, designed to express contrition or thanks.

  • From the Gaza Perimeter

    July 19
    Yesterday, Parks Authority’s rangers found a dead bird, a falcon, on a tree near the Gaza border. There was a string attached to it leading to a flammable material. It was probably sent from Gaza in order to start yet another fire in the Negev.

  • An Emotional Shabbat in Berlin

    July 16
    Spending Shabbat in a foreign place has always intrigued me. While studying abroad in London and then backpacking for five weeks around Europe in the late ‘90s, I felt a strong pull to be in a synagogue on Friday night.

  • My Country

    July 5
    I arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 5th 2000, extremely nervous and with some degree of apprehension. I had never been to the United States, and like many immigrants, the picture of America was a scary one.

June 2018

  • Choosing Life

    June 26
    In the distance of just a few hundred feet and a few minutes’ walk we saw the difference between death and life. Between evil and good. And the question that came to mind was, What can we do about this?

  • The Value of Baseball

    June 26
    As I boy, I remember heading to sporting events with my father. There were times when we would go with other family members or friends, but the experiences that stick out in my mind are those hours I spent with just my dad.

May 2018

  • When Jews Run the Wrong Way

    May 29
    Why do so many of my justice-pursuing-Jewish-friends look upon jury duty as an escape room – something to get out of, and quickly? Why am I made to feel like a loser if I “end up” on a jury?

  • Remembering Rabbi Aaron Panken

    May 22
    In Pirkei Avot, we are instructed to “Find yourself a teacher, make yourself a friend.” Rabbi Aaron Panken was both teacher and friend. He could share complex concepts with alacrity, and also talk with humor and joy about his kids and his hobbies…

  • Collaboration

    May 1
    A community bike ride to raise money to help send kids to Jewish summer camp, positive feedback on support of partner agency leaders plus a visit to one agency that has been serving members of our community with special needs for 40 years, and finally, a discussion with some 40 synagogue presidents about our common goals and concerns. This is what we can accomplish together.

April 2018

  • Philanthropy Can Change Reality - It Changed Mine

    April 23
    Equality and shared society for Jews and Arabs in Israel deserves to be high up on the list of Israel’s priorities. The promise that Israel would be a “light unto the nations” is one of the state’s fundamental founding principles.

  • All Jews Are Responsible for One Another

    April 23
    Last week’s remarkable mission to Jewish Ukraine and Israel with the Global Connections Peoplehood group brought together program participants from Greater MetroWest and Arad, Israel, to see first-hand how our support is truly helping to sustain and build Jewish life in the former Soviet Union.

March 2018

  • Learning Together and Sharing Traditions

    March 29
    Now in its second year, the Model Seder program fosters an understanding of commonalities among students who otherwise may never find themselves in the same room together. The Passover holiday — rooted in the themes of slavery and freedom — is a perfect place to strengthen bridges and build friendships.

  • Lacemakers

    March 26
    Last week we welcomed a delegation of Druze women and their chaperones from our partner community of Hurfeish. All week we heard stories of new friendships, amazing experiences of cooking together, and incredible art sessions.

  • Reflections on AIPAC Policy Conference 2018

    March 13
    AIPAC provides a forum and a model for how to reach across the political aisle, engage in meaningful discourse, celebrate commonalities, acknowledge the disagreements but never lose sight of our shared goal of a strong and secure Israel supported by a healthy U.S.-Israel alliance.

February 2018

  • This is Us

    February 14
    Earlier this week, I traveled to Houston with other Federation professionals to see first-hand the unimaginable destruction to the Jewish community caused by Hurricane Harvey and the incredible impact our UJA Campaign dollars have had in providing relief.

  • Lifesaving, life-enhancing work

    February 5
    I’m proud to tell you that our own Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey (JFS CNJ) has been awarded a Jewish Federations grant for $220,000 for its Innovations in Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed (PCTI) Supportive Services for Holocaust Survivors.

January 2018

  • I Have a Dream…

    January 22
    Why do we give children a day off from school on Martin Luther King Day? Instead we should be giving them a day to learn tolerance, to engage, and to become better citizens and more accepting young people. A day to hear about the past and present struggles of so many Americans, and a day to really absorb and reflect.

December 2017

  • 17 in 17

    December 27
    17 things that made me proud in 2017

  • Lessons I Learned from My Grandma

    December 18
    I am so proud to be able to help grandparents and their grandchildren establish a bond between one another and Israel through shared experiences. This is happening because our Federation is partnering with the Jewish Agency for Israel to bring G2 to Greater MetroWest.

  • You are what you give to

    December 8
    We know that the most powerful way to keep Jews Jewish is to build and invest in multiple immersive Jewish experiences – summer camp, Birthright trips, and missions, combined with purposeful community-building work – that will help the community in ten or twenty years’ time.

November 2017

  • The Center Stage

    November 17
    Now, more than ever before, the General Assembly, where our Jewish Federations come together, serves as the primary venue to address the central pressing issues we face as diaspora Jews. And anyone can come – everyone is invited.

  • All of us are not some of us

    November 3
    Religious pluralism isn’t a fancy buzzword. It has real-world consequences and implications. It means that American Jewish values of diversity, of mutual respect, and of tolerance should be upheld.

October 2017

  • The enlargement of awesomeness

    October 30
    Our Federation has become the training ground for hundreds of lay volunteers in our community. This is a game-changer – because you can see the future leadership coming through the doors of the programs we offer right now.

September 2017

  • Big Things and Big Birthdays

    September 25
    The Midrash says that big things are happening during the High Holidays. It was around that time of the year back in 1987 when I was given a once-in-a-lifetime professional and personal opportunity.

  • Members of Knesset Visit GMW

    September 19
    Against the backdrop of simmering tensions and frustration over the Israel government’s freeze of the Western Wall agreement, five members of the Israeli Knesset came to Greater MetroWest for meetings with rabbis, community leaders, and students.

  • Jerry

    September 18
    At the funeral service for Jerry Gottesman, held at the Jewish day school that bears his name, the hundreds of people there truly recognized the impact he had on so many lives and understood that his was a life well-lived, filled with love, community, family, and legacy.

  • Where We Are and Where We Are Going

    September 11
    We are a people of collective memory – Zachor – Remember! Our memories are not simply stored away; our collective memories inform our lives; they forge our future. While we safeguard the memories of where we were on September 11, 2001, perhaps it is time to also consider where we are. And where we are going.

August 2017

  • Rosie Saves the World

    August 31
    Rosie Saves the World is a terrific story about a little girl who wants to save the world, but realizes that she has neglected to help those nearest and dearest to her. She faces a common challenge – how to balance global citizenship with our unique obligations to our Jewish People.

  • An Ambitious Vision

    August 28
    We’re embarking on a mission to make Jewish learning a more fluid, engaging experience year-round. We’ve created the JKid Educator Interchange to bring together key players in Jewish education to bring Jewish learning to life for our kids 365 days a year.

  • Art, Love, Life

    August 28
    Some people go to the mountains for inspiration. Others go to the ocean. But here in Greater MetroWest we need only go as far as Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange to our own Wae (Wellness, Arts, Enrichment) Center to get real inspiration.

  • Perspective on the Eclipse

    August 21
    Today’s solar eclipse offers us the rare opportunity to simply look up at the sky and whisper Wow! As humans, made of the same stuff that comprise the sun, the moon, and all the heavens, that sense of amazement has an impact upon us.

  • The most important screenshot I ever took

    August 21
    In the past week I’ve been thinking a lot about securing the Jewish community, and I’m proud of our Federation’s new ability to communicate across our community to provide immediate information and potentially save lives during a crisis.

  • An unforgettable moment

    August 10
    In my years as a living bridges builder I have experienced many inspiring moments, but what happened last week was one the most meaningful and emotional happenings of my career.

  • The Power of PJ Library

    August 10
    There we were, a small but mighty group – a lay leader, a lead donor, and a few Federation professionals, including myself – gathered on the front steps of a home in Scotch Plains, laden with balloons, posters, books, and swag.

July 2017

  • Braving Tragedy Together

    July 21
    Last Friday, two young police officers guarding the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem were brutally murdered. They were both from the Druze community. Though not Jews, they dedicated and tragically lost their lives protecting the holy site.

  • The mirror that reflects*

    July 13
    Our Federation dollars leverage JDC’s work helping elderly Jews in the Former Soviet Union across 11 time zones in several thousand locations. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the clients were centralized in large urban areas? Yes and no. But for now, if you've got the desire to make a massive impact on their lives, the best bang for your charitable buck is through our support of the Hesed system (community/welfare centers) across the FSU.

  • Centropa Summer Academy

    July 7
    Ilyse Shainbrown, Federation’s Gottesman Fellow, Jewish Cultural and Educational Liaison to Newark, is accompanying five Newark Public School teachers on a nine-day Holocaust education teacher training program and exploration of 20th century Jewish community through Budapest, Hungary and Belgrade, Serbia.

  • Ma Nishtana?

    July 6
    I have been closely monitoring the “Who is a Jew” narrative over the last three decades. I broadly include all attempts by the state of Israel, and there were many, to define non Ultra Orthodox Jews as second class Jews – basically ignoring, undermining, insulting, and diminishing the vast majority of our people.

June 2017

  • Standing Up and Speaking Out

    June 30
    There I was in Israel this week, expecting to participate in some interesting but uneventful meetings, meet some of our partners on the ground, maybe share a nice meal with colleagues. I didn’t expect to be lobbying in the Knesset, to be interviewed on national radio, or to be working with mayors and partners on our response. Yet that’s precisely what I did.

  • Never Alone

    June 26
    In her final blog post as our Federation president, Leslie Dannin Rosenthal reflects on her three-year term and how we must continue to stay focused on our shared mission of ensuring a strong Jewish future.

  • The M Chromosome

    June 13
    I want to share with you an astonishing, only-in-Israel story, built over three days last week. It reflects the uniqueness of our people and the collective memory which keeps us vibrant.

  • Our JCCs – standing up for something

    June 6
    Living in the most free and open society in history, we face a daily barrage of options and choices. Do we connect or do we withdraw? Our JCCs remind us that we’re not a monolithic society and culture; that no one holds a monopoly on expressing Jewish identity and community.

  • Creating a Caring Community Together Goes Global

    June 5
    Last month the Joint Chaplaincy Committee collaborated with one of our partners in Israel, Gisha L’chaim or Life’s Door, to hold a chaplaincy educational conference entitled, “Compassion and Hope in Aging, Illness and at Life’s End” as part of our new bi-national initiative.

  • How Happy Should We Be?

    June 5
    In our cautiously calibrated society, we tend to measure most things on a spectrum. Is my glass half empty, or half full? On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, how would you rate this movie? It is Yom Yerushalayim, how happy should we be?

  • "Glocal"

    June 2
    Often when asked, what Federation means for me, my answer is: “It is my best vehicle to translate the big global Jewish scene into a local, intimate digested sphere – glocal.” This past week provided me with yet more proof of this theory.

May 2017

  • Each one of us has a name

    May 25
    This week, at our Women’s Philanthropy Annual Meeting, we recognized the awe-inspiring work that our Women’s leadership takes on and the power of what all these amazing women have achieved. And it was my special privilege to honor my colleague, Sarabeth Margolis Wizen, who will be ending her role as Women’s Philanthropy Director.

  • It is not the Mountain we conquer

    May 18
    The Liberty Bell – a symbol of freedom in our country – is also a compelling reminder that our world is imperfect and it is our job to continually strive to repair it, tikun olam.

  • Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose

    May 1
    Like many in our community, I’ve been watching the French elections with fascination. I’m reading everything I can about the candidates and the election climate, the spillover into the rest of Europe, and more.

April 2017

  • Leadership failures and leadership vision, Part 2

    April 24
    On Yom HaShoah, as we remember the horrors of the Holocaust, I can’t help but think about a unique world leader and how his commitment to a special relationship – and to serving the greater good – helped the world recover from what, at the time, must have seemed like insurmountable devastation.

  • Leadership failures and leadership vision: Part 1

    April 20
    This coming Shabbat is Shemini, one of the most fascinating portions in Vayikra (Leviticus). Why? Because in it Nadav and Avihu, the oldest and second sons of Aaron, are killed for what seems to be a very minor transgression.

  • The Power of Relationships

    April 4
    Federation is showing GMW teens and college students that they have the ability to help shape and impact the strength of the U.S.-Israel alliance by speaking with legislators, opinion makers, and campus leaders who will one day populate the halls of power.

  • Freedom

    April 3
    Next week is Pesach, Passover – when we retell the story of our departure from Egypt and our liberation. We sit at the seder table to teach our children, and to be reminded of what counts in life and community. We celebrate freedom, and we teach so as not to forget.

March 2017

  • No Snowflake in an Avalanche Ever Feels Responsible

    March 21
    Snow in Jewish tradition represents the concept of tshuvah, our chance to start again, to change. Most of us take for granted the reality that we do get another chance; that we can try again. But there are many in our community who have less opportunity and who find themselves trapped in a reality that is far less hopeful.

  • Thickening our Jewish peoplehood

    March 10
    Our job, right now, is to create an exciting and compelling narrative to speak meaningfully to everyone in the community, allow each individual to shape their sense of community for themselves.

February 2017

  • Hands Up

    February 27
    What impressed me most at a staff meeting last week was the show of hands when a colleague asked who in the room had benefited in some way from the impact of Federation’s UJA Annual Campaign.

  • Why I was in Israel last week

    February 7
    A year ago I was accepted into the first-ever cohort of the CEO Onboarding Program which has given me incredibly unique opportunities to learn best practices, concepts, and models from mentors, coaches, other CEOs, and leadership experts.

January 2017

  • Finding the Judaism in Teen Topics

    January 31
    “What do YOU want to learn?” That’s the JTEEN-GMW@ slogan. As we embark on a new era of JTEEN programming it is a question we are asking more and more… and we’re getting more responses than ever before. By Yoni Glatt, Federation’s Director of JTEEN-GMW.

December 2016

  • Protecting Our People

    December 22
    During these uncertain economic times, many organizations have walked away from their pension obligations. I am proud of the work our leadership has done to ensure that all of our pensioners receive what they’re due.

  • A Foot in Two Worlds

    December 20
    Cuba has to be one of the most fascinating, confusing, hauntingly beautiful places I’ve ever been. I returned on Sunday night from my second Federation Mission to Cuba, marveling at all that has changed and all that has not.

  • JCF Makes Donor Advised Funds More Accessible to All

    December 12
    In an effort to reduce barriers to all donors and encourage them to see Federation as the place to fulfill all of their philanthropic duties, the Jewish Community Foundation Board voted to reduce the minimum dollar amount required to open a Donor Advised Fund from $10,000 to $5,000 through December 2108.

November 2016

  • An Incredible Response

    November 28
    Israel is assessing the widespread destruction and tallying the damages caused by five days of wildfires which burned across the country. Strong winds are still expected for another 24 hours, but all fires are now under control, and the forecast is for considerably improved weather conditions from Tuesday, including a high probability of rain later in the week.

  • Something Big is Coming

    November 18
    The BIGGIVE is our opportunity to come together as a Jewish community to demonstrate and celebrate our unity and to help raise the funds we need to continue the important work we do.

  • The Election Is Over. Now What?

    November 17
    On a sleepless night last Tuesday, as the contours of an historic electoral decision began to take shape, my mind drifted back to a lower Manhattan courtroom, where – 15 years ago – I took the oath to became an American citizen.

  • Sometimes you can “Just do it”

    November 14
    Kol hakavodto my colleague Bob Lichtman, our Chief Jewish Learning Officer. He had a great idea for our teen leaders, and he and his JTEEN team just did it – they made it happen in two days’ time.

  • Making an Impact with Newark Public School Teachers

    November 7
    As Federation’s new Gottesman Fellow, Jewish Cultural and Educational Liaison to Newark, my charge is to create programs to commemorate, celebrate, and educate Newark residents about the city’s rich Jewish heritage. My first program is a three-session workshop for teachers on teaching about the Holocaust.

  • What was New Jersey like?

    November 7
    Last week GMW hosted 150 individuals from around the world for the 2016 Diller Teen Fellows Professional and Lay Leaders Conference. I was happy that, for many of them, this first impression of New Jersey was such a positive one.

  • Use Your IRA to Make a Gift, Tax Free!

    November 7
    If you are over 70½ years of age and have an IRA, I have some great news for you! You can now make a tax-free rollover gift from your IRA of up to $100,000.

  • Negev Success Stories

    November 1
    Ten years ago, when our Keren Ness Board began directing funds to the Negev, the vision of developing and maintaining communities through economic development included strengthening relationships with strategic partners who shared our vision of building up the region.

October 2016

  • Things I learned in the sukkah this year

    October 26
    I don’t always sit in the sukkah for the connection to the past. Sometimes I do it for the peace and quiet. Sometimes I do it because it’s a simple reminder that you don’t need all the clutter that usually surrounds you.

  • Looking Ahead to a Second Visionary Year of Global Connections

    October 19
    Here in Greater MetroWest we have and continue to lead the way in terms of our partnerships in Israel. I encourage anyone who cares about Israel and about the living bridges we continue to build with our Israeli partners to get involved in our inspiring Global Connections programs.

  • More Choice, More Dignity

    October 11
    The hunger I feel on Yom Kippur makes me think about all those people, here and around the world, who are food insecure. And about how you help.

September 2016

  • The coolest things I saw all year

    September 29
    I’ve been amazed, inspired, and grateful for so many things this year in our Jewish Federation and in our community. But there were ten very visual things that stayed with me…

  • Day Schools Set a Precedent for Community Building

    September 26
    Last Sunday a group of GMW day school leaders, parents, alumni, teachers, and students traveled to the Upper West Side to represent our community and our Jewish Day Schools at the Columbus Ave. Street Fair.

  • The Week That Was

    September 26
    Last week was an amazing week for our Federation and Greater MetroWest. Through a wide variety of events we brought together so many people to celebrate, learn, and benefit our community together.

  • A Life-long Optimist

    September 23
    Our partnership with the community of Ofakim in Israel is a direct result of then Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Two of his life-long passions were strengthening Israel/Diaspora relationships while at the same time helping the Negev.

  • Better Together

    September 19
    Our commitment to supporting individuals with disabilities and their families is a critical component of who we are as a Jewish community and as a Jewish Federation. Together we engage our families, synagogues and local agencies to help create a community that’s accessible to all members. But we don’t just stop in New Jersey.

  • Newark

    September 13
    I’m proud to welcome Ilyse Shainbrown as our new Gottesman Fellow: Jewish Cultural and Educational Liaison to Newark, an entirely new position that will create and coordinate impactful and inspiring programs to commemorate, celebrate, and educate students and adults in Newark about the city’s rich Jewish heritage.

  • It Takes a Global Village…

    September 13
    This time of year for many kids and teens is filled with mixed feelings of mourning the end of camp and anticipating the new school year. Thanks to your generosity, these feelings are shared by many kids and their families throughout our worldwide Greater MetroWest community.

  • Anywhere-Everywhere

    September 6
    The way we think about community is undergoing a revolution right now, because what we do as individuals anywhere keeps on having an impact on people everywhere.

  • Today Is a Big Day

    September 1
    Today, September 1, in Ramat Eliyahu, our longest-standing partner community, is an excellent day to showcase our Greater MetroWest impact.

August 2016

  • The secret sauce

    August 22
    It’s a quiet summer … relatively. But in the last few weeks my colleagues in our Planning and Impact Department have been starting a round of meetings with our partner agencies and programs.

  • Girl Power

    August 18
    On last week’s annual visit to Jewish overnight camps by Federation and Foundation leadership I was reminded of the power of the camp experience to teach girls that they can do and be anything.

  • C’est tout?

    August 15
    We were there, on the ground in France, at exactly the same time as the Brexit vote, as Europe’s identity is changing, discussing the work that our Jewish Federations are leading – on Jewish communal identity, Aliyah, security, and education.

  • A Rewarding Partnership

    August 8
    Federation proudly accepted the first Community Partner Award presented by Camp Harlam. We see our work with Jewish camps as an important investment in the future of our community.

  • GMW as Matchmaker

    August 8
    Over the years, our Federation has played a critical role in Israel as a shadchan, or matchmaker, bringing Israeli communities and organizations together to work collaboratively toward their mutual, larger goals.

  • The challenge – and the enemy

    August 5
    I don’t know many Federation supporters who give only to Jewish Federation. They give because they care, because they have found organizations that share and implement their values... and those values are wide-ranging enough to include more than one cause.

July 2016

  • Erez

    July 29
    Kibbutz Erez is a community of about 400 residents located in south-western Israel on the Gaza border. But this special Kibbutz is much more than that for us.

  • OVCO

    July 25
    We’ve had a complete reorganization this past year of how we plan and allocate. We really needed it.

  • Reflections

    No More Ashes
    July 25
    On July 15, 1937, 69 years ago, Nazi officials processed the first of what over the next eight years would eventually amount to just shy of a quarter million prisoners at Buchenwald Concentration Camp. On January 29, 1945, Elie Wiesel arrived with his father.

  • Technology in the Desert

    July 21
    A young GMW community member writes about her summer internship in Be’er Sheva and about how excited she is to be a small part of the effort to make this community in the Negev the next recognized technologically advanced city in Israel.

  • Sarcelles

    July 18
    Recently I spent Shabbat in the city of Sarcelles, about ten miles north of Paris. Out of a population of 60,000 there are some 15,000 Jews living there.

  • Reflections

    The Human Heart...A Thing of Wonder
    July 15
    The human heart is a thing of wonder. It represents our ability to act ethically, to identify our conscience and do what is right, to make good decisions that are based on reason and fairness, and to express compassion and understanding.

  • Building community at every age

    July 14
    It’s been just a little over a week since the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life merged with our Jewish Federation, but the magic is already happening. Together, we’re focusing even more attention on the younger members of our community, making an even more powerful investment in our Jewish future.

  • Reflections

    Baton Rouge, Louisiana. St. Paul, Minnesota. Dallas, Texas.
    July 14
    In light of the recent violence on the national scene, Federation asked the rabbis of Greater Metrowest New Jersey to provide their latest divrei torah, drashot, or other insights on the situation.

May 2016

  • Sweep

    July 11
    Hunger is a huge challenge facing New Jersey. A million people in our state are food insecure. Almost 900,000 people in our state (many of them children and seniors) rely on food banks, and that number is climbing.

  • Birthright

    July 5
    There was a fascinating piece on JTA the other day that looked at the funding for Birthright, what has become recognized as one of the most successful programs in Jewish communal life.

June 2016

  • Partnership

    June 27
    For almost a year now our leaderships has been considering how to bring The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life into Federation as a Federation department. We’re proud of the achievements and success of The Partnership, the Jewish education and identity-building arm of the Federation that has developed quite a reputation throughout our community and beyond.

  • Getting on Board

    June 20
    I was proud and privileged to write an article in eJewish Philanthropy about my participation in the CEO Onboarding program.

  • Gratitude

    June 10
    We were fortunate to have the opportunity at our recent Annual Meeting, in front of hundreds of community members, to thank Maxine Murnick for her service and dedication as she steps down as UJA Campaign Chair.

  • It’s Wonderful to Save Whales, but You Also Have to Save Jews

    June 7
    It’s wonderful to save whales, but you also have to save Jews. We had an inspiring speaker at our Women’s Awareness Day the other week – Jane Weitzman, philanthropist and board member of our partner agency, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Jane enthralled the hundreds of women in the audience with her personal story of philanthropy and Jewish leadership.* She was engaging, funny, thoughtful, and memorable.

  • Edie Lopez

    June 3
    Edie Lopez dedicated her life to our Federation for more than 40 years.

  • Ted Talks

    May 31
    The legendary Ted Comet, perhaps the longest-serving Jewish communal professional in North America, came to speak with our professional team last week. His dedication to helping the Jewish people around the world is unmatched.

  • Our Annual Meeting

    May 24
    You’re invited to join us on June 1 for our Federation’s Annual Meeting. We’ll celebrate the achievements of the community, thank our outgoing Campaign Chair Maxine Murnick, and be inspired by Rabbi David Wolpe, one of the most inspiring speakers you’ll probably hear all year.

  • Lounging in the past and the future

    May 23
    There are people we celebrate with awards. And there are people we celebrate with honors. But some people have done so much in and for our community that we want to occasionally take a step back and find a way to thank them in a special way.

  • Not Here, Not There, But Everywhere

    May 20
    We’re almost at the end of the Yoms – Yom HaShoa, Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut, Yom Yerushalayim. They create all kinds of pictures in my head and emotions in my heart. The overarching feeling I’ve had this year is of being in two places – New Jersey and Israel – and yet in neither place.

  • What have we accomplished lately?

    May 18
    Our Outreach and Engagement Department has been in existence for a little less than a year. Over the course of this year, as our lay and professional leadership worked to chart their course, set departmental and community priorities, and engage the community around their efforts, they’ve accomplished something really impressive.

  • A dark mark on humanity

    May 9
    It’s a disturbing topic. One I truly wish there was no need to address. I’m talking about Elder Abuse and, sadly, it’s a topic that’s on the mind of many of those on the front lines in our community, the incredible people who, through our partner agencies, are charged with making sure our seniors are able to live with the dignity and respect they deserve.

April 2016

  • A Feeling of Wow

    April 22
    The erev (eve) of each Jewish holiday has its own feeling as we approach it. On Erev Rosh HaShanah, it can be a feeling of introspection.

  • Communal Professionals

    April 15
    It’s bothered me for some time now that we’ve had an artificial delineation in the community between “donors” and “professionals.” For too long, we haven’t had a Jewish communal professional campaign supporting the UJA Annual Campaign. And that’s an important opportunity lost.

  • The 10 Coolest Things I Saw This Week

    April 12
    Some of the most inspiring, moving, and memorable moments from our Jewish Federation’s Global Connections U'faratza Mission to Israel last week. By Federation CEO Dov Ben-Shimon.

  • Conversations

    April 4
    On our Global connections Mission, the important theme running through everything we do is conversation.

March 2016

  • Racial Justice Has Always Been a Jewish Issue

    March 29
    It is now time for us to join with those working in our state in support of racial justice. Anyone interested in getting involved and making a difference is invited to join us for a very important program, “Criminal Justice Reform: Formulating the Jewish Response” on April 6 at 7 p.m.

  • LIVE

    March 4
    I’m excited for our upcoming LIVE from Greater MetroWest event for so many reasons. It’s going to be a night to remember.

  • Our Synagogues

    March 10
    There are more than 90 synagogues in our Greater MetroWest community – small and large, established and new, spanning all denominations – and we take our relationship with each and every one of them very seriously.

  • Double Your Impact

    March 16
    We’re blessed to have incredible, amazing, inspiring donors and leaders in this community.
    During these past few weeks, several of them stepped up and said, “Follow me.”

February 2016

  • Join me in the sun

    February 16
    If you’re a former, part-time, or occasional GMW resident living in Florida… come join me in two weeks

  • Israel Becomes Personal

    February 26
    Why do we invest so much into our delegation of shlichim (Israeli emissaries)? What do they actually do?

  • It’s Complicated

    February 3
    Israel is inspiring, complicated, and changing. We must embrace and we must wrestle. And throughout the journey, we must be proud to call Israel ours.

  • Dreams and Visions in the Negev

    February 5
    The Ness Fund supports economic development throughout the Negev region of Israel. The purpose of our mission is to meet with prospective recipients and learn about their innovative ideas.

  • Come With Me

    February 8
    I’ve just returned from a joint leadership mission to Israel. Five leaders from our Federation embarked on a life-changing experience to learn about leadership, philanthropy, and responsibility.

  • Annual Investors Meeting

    February 3
    JCF event offers fund holders more face time, more information, more engagement, and more transparency.


January 2016

  • Happy Birthday Trees

    January 25
    It is a Jewish custom to plant trees for Tu B’Shevat. And this year we have an extraordinary opportunity to participate in that custom by supporting our partner community of Kibbutz Erez and plant a tree in Israel.

  • Acting Together

    January 25
    We can pray together. We can hope together. But what matters is that we act together. A rabbi friend of mine from St. Louis shared a heart-breaking story with me.

  • Countering BDS on Many Fronts

    January 21
    This summer, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church (UMC), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will hold their national conferences. Anti-Israel and pro-BDS resolutions will likely be debated at each.

  • The Worst Artist in the U.S.

    January 20
    My favorite painter is the great pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. By blurring the boundaries between “high art” and mass culture, he reinforced the idea that art doesn’t have hierarchies.

  • New and Future Visionaries

    January 14
    Mini-missions have become an important part of how we understand and appreciate the work and impact of these agencies and, ultimately, give Federation leaders involved in the allocations process the background information we need.

  • Hugs and Kissses

    January 14
    As I end my term in New Jersey this week, I look forward to returning to Israel and continuing our Global Connections work from our Greater MetroWest office in Jerusalem.

  • Feeling at home

    January 6
    In the face of continuing violence and tragic loss, we must remain determined to not let terrorism consume us. We will continue to go to Israel, to the place where we feel at home, to connect with the wonderful people and to see all of the important work being done there.

  • Impact

    January 4
    I’m proud that in 2015 our Federation, led by the hard work of our Community Relations Committee leadership, made a real impact on government affairs.



December 2015

  • Something Wonderful

    December 17
    From January to the end of September 2015, a total of 11,105 new olim arrived in Israel from countries of the Former Soviet Union. Half of these new immigrants are under the age of 35. They made it because of you.

  • Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

    December 16
    Through this mission you have a unique opportunity to visit meaningful sites of Jewish heritage in Poland and Israel with Holocaust survivors — to uncover and to learn about the past, and to see and celebrate our strength and vitality as Jews who have survived and flourished.

  • An incredible 15-month journey

    December 10
    The 20 individuals in Greater MetroWest NJ’s eighth cohort of the Diller Teen Fellows program graduated from our 15-month journey in an exuberant ceremony in front of our parents, grandparents, siblings, and many others who have supported us through the process.

  • Cherkassy

    December 8
    I was privileged to speak this morning at the annual meeting of the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry (NCSEJ, formerly the National Coalition for Soviet Jewry, or NCSJ).

  • Not Standing Idly By

    December 4
    Since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, one of our partners on the ground, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), has been increasing its work with the Fund for Victims of Terror.

  • Help Us End Hunger in New Jersey

    December 2
    As we prepare to celebrate the miracle of Chanukah, it is important for us to also remember those who are less fortunate and to commit to help them live their lives with dignity and support.


November 2015

  • Why you should be proud

    November 30
    Our national Jewish Federation system launched a special Fund for Holocaust Survivors Campaign last year.

  • With a grateful heart

    November 24
    The tectonic plates that have been shifting underneath our feet in the Jewish world seem to be coming together to produce a moment where we understand that it is through the will and the passion of the individual that we can and will do our best work as a whole community.

  • A Time of Reflection and Action

    November 24
    It sometimes feels like the sky is falling. But together we are strong and can make a difference by taking action. We in the Community Relations Committee are addressing the concerns of the Jewish community.

  • Thanks and Giving

    November 23
    Yesterday was Super Sunday. It was, in a word, super. We raised more money than we’ve raised in years. And that’s critical, because the UJA Annual Campaign is the lifeblood of a strong, healthy vibrant community.

  • True or False? Israelis don’t give

    November 18
    False. For years we’ve been hearing that Israelis don’t give. That they don’t understand Jewish community, philanthropy, federations ... it’s not true.

  • Plant a Tree

    November 16
    This is a lovely, wonderful, inspiring opportunity. Want to send a message of support for Israel, and at the same time send a mazal tov (congratulations) or a note of sympathy? Send a tribute card that plants a tree in Kibbutz Erez, along the Gaza border.

  • Grab some tissues

    November 13
    I love the GA – our national Jewish Federation system’s annual General Assembly. The GA is filled with inspiring moments and people. I leave every GA energized and impressed by our story. The 2015 GA was held earlier this week.

  • An Oasis in the Desert

    November 12
    For nearly 15 years, our Greater MetroWest Federation has had a powerful connection and partnership with Kibbutz Erez, a community of approximately 500 residents in the northern Negev facing the Gaza Strip border.

  • It’s hard to think ahead…

    November 10
    One of the hardest things to do is get out of the day-to-day grind – the immediate – and spend time thinking about the future. We know it’s important, but finding the time is difficult. It’s what our Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest (JCF) gets to do with donors on a daily basis.

  • Sandy – three years later

    November 2
    Last week was the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. The aftermath of the storm provided an opportunity for us to live our values and fulfill our mission: to care, to build, and to save.