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Endowment Spotlight

The Theodore R.z”l and Maxine B. Murnick PJ Library Endowment

Like many parents, Maxine and Ted z”l Murnick loved reading to their children when they were young because “we thought this was wonderful together time,” says Maxine. “Reading, education, and family were always so important to our parents,” says daughter Lee Murnick, “and that has been passed on to the next generation.”

When Ted passed away in 2010, Maxine and her children, Lee, Jay, and Amy, decided that they wanted to do something to honor his life. They chose to support three Federation initiatives to recognize both his love of children and his dedication to building bridges with Israel — funding PJ Library® in Greater MetroWest, constructing and endowing a library in our Negev partner community of Kibbutz Erez, and establishing an endowment to support our Rishonim Program which brings a cohort of young Israeli emissaries to Greater MetroWest each year to teach about Israel and build real-life connections.

In February 2020, the Murnick family made a historic $4 million gift to create the Theodore R.z”l and Maxine B. Murnick PJ Library Endowment of the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) of Greater MetroWest NJ, ensuring that thousands of children and families will continue to receive Jewish books and other materials in the mail each month for generations to come. PJ Library in Greater MetroWest also provides programming that connects families with one another and with the larger Jewish community.

According to The Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which founded and manages this international program that is funded and maintained by local Federations, this is the largest endowment gift ever made for PJ Library anywhere.

“When children receive Jewish themed books in the mail they read about customs, holidays, and traditions that may or may not seem familiar to them. And they begin to ask questions,” Maxine says. “The books children receive each month spark their curiosity and help to keep traditions alive.”

The Murnick family’s history of involvement and leadership in the Greater MetroWest community spans decades. Ted served as a member of the Federation Board of Trustees, as president of Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange, and as a board member of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation (JCHC). Maxine is a past-UJA campaign chair, and past Women’s Philanthropy campaign chair and president; she is immediate past chair of the Federation’s Unified Allocations Council, and is a current trustee of the JCF. Maxine is currently a vice-chair of the Greater MetroWest Centennial Campaign, marking the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ in 2023. The Murnick Endowment is an early leadership gift of that campaign. Ted z”l and Maxine’s three children, Lee, Jay, and Amy have also held various leadership positions within Greater MetroWest, other Federations, and additional Jewish organizations.

“It is important that we support Jewish programs like PJ Library if we want them to survive,” says Maxine. “What could be better for the future of the Jewish community worldwide than doing something for our Jewish children?” Adds Jay, “If you don’t plant a seed today, then there’s nothing bearing fruit in the future.”

“A memory we all share of my father is his reading often to his first grandchild because, sadly, she was the only one he got to know,” says daughter Amy McKeag. “That time they shared together was particularly meaningful, and now, through PJ Library, we can enable so many others to experience the joy of bonding over Jewish children’s books.”

Read Maxine’s recent article in the PJ Library magazine, Proof. Click here  and turn to page 3.

Subscribe to PJ Library.

For more information on the Centennial Campaign, contact Kim Hirsh, Executive Director, JCF, 973-929-3026.