The Jewish Community Foundation Of Greater MetroWest NJ (JCFNJ)
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901 Route 10, P.O. Box 929, Whippany, NJ 07981-0929
(973) 929-3113 | (973) 884-9316 (fax)
1391 Martine Avenue, Scotch Plains NJ 07076-9920
(908) 889-5335 | (908) 889-5370 (fax)
From Generation to Generation
James Shrager grew up watching his parents enthusiastically build Jewish organizations in and around Plainfield, NJ. With his formative years at the feet of his parents’ dedication to Temple Beth El, the Jewish Community Center of Plainfield and the Plainfield Hebrew Institute, Jim naturally followed in their footsteps.
Jim took that dedication to heart when he and his wife, Bonnie, moved their family back to his hometown and quickly connected with the Jewish community, joining Federation’s Young Leadership Program in the 70’s. “It was a terrific program, 12 couples, and then we went to Israel for two weeks. That cemented everything.”
Jim joined the board of his childhood temple and the Plainfield JCC. He later served as president of his temple, of the JCC, and of the Jewish Association of Centers and Ys (JACY). He became president of the Jewish Federation of Central NJ in 1987. Later, in 2021, the Central Federation merged with the then MetroWest Federation to become today’s Federation of Great MetroWest NJ.
When Jim was asked to consider legacy plans at the inception of the New Century Fund , he had already set up, what he calls his charitable IRA. “I guess I was ahead of the legacy campaign because then the phone calls came in and asked if I would be willing to consider it and I said sure because I already had.”
As Jim spent his life in dedication to the Jewish community, he knew he wanted to ensure that the work could continue. He understood that he and his family were able to benefit from the Jewish organizations in their community because generosity of past community members. Jim wanted to ensure that generations to come would similarly benefit from the organizations in the Jewish community. “[W]hat inspired me to do it is appreciation for the fact that the past is what made my use of these institutions possible, and it was my obligation, duty, to do that for the future.”
Today, Jim remains engaged with Federation, serving on the boards of the Mack Ness Foundation, the Jewish Historical Society of NJ, and the Hebrew Free Loan Society. He is also a volunteer with the New Century Fund . Federation has “done a terrific job and it bodes well for the future. Fundraising is strong, and we have reason to be optimistic for the future of Federation,” said Jim. “My hope is that we would stay true to our mission and 100 years from now we would still be here helping other Jews.”
It is the Jewish Way
Jerry Grunt often contemplates the impact of Judaism on his life. As a Conservative Jew comfortable with his Judaism, charitable giving is part and parcel of his nature: a sacred act that one should do without being asked. “I like what my people and my religion stand for,” he said. “It was something that I was brought up with. My parents… believed in tzedakah at multiple levels… When it became my responsibility to carry on as a young adult I just did it.”
When Jerry was first solicited by a member of his synagogue, the person told him “tzedakah is something one should give until it feels good.” This mantra has stuck with Jerry for his entire adult life, evident as he and his wife, Barbara, have been consistently giving to the Jewish Federation for almost 60 years. They have managed their tzedakah through their Jewish Community Foundation Donor Advised Fund for over 20 years, making a legacy bequest in their will to Federation even earlier than that. “It is who we are,” Jerry said. “It was something we did without being asked to do. To me that is the better part of tzedakah.”
While Jerry has maintained his commitment to the Jewish people with his unfailing annual UJA gift, he can thank daughter, Deborah Lubetkin, and his grandson, Josh, for his more recent understanding of Federation’s far-reaching arms. Through his daughter’s involvement in Yoga Living Bridges in Ofakim, Israel, Jerry learned of the work that our Federation was doing with partner agencies there. When it came time for his grandson to become Bar Mitzvah, the family chose to celebrate in Ofakim, in part because of the connection that Deborah made through her experience. Resulting from this Federation-Israel relationship and experience, Josh chose to raise money to build a new school soccer field in Ofakim as his mitzvah project. To Jerry, the dedication of the soccer field, including a plaque with Josh’s name, was one of the “most moving experiences” he had ever experienced. Together, Josh and his mother form the living bridge that inspired Jerry to become more involved with Federation, attending more events and eventually becoming part of the New Century Fund Leadership Team.
It was serendipitous when, recruiting volunteers, they were one of the first couples to be asked to be part of the New Century Fund (NCF). The world was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and the couple was ready to give even more to charitable organizations. They took this opportunity through NCF to reaffirm their legacy commitment to Federation by formalizing the bequest in their will to ensure that the sacred act of tzedakah would continue in perpetuity. Even though this was a new gift in the eyes of Federation, Jerry and Barbara’s gift was already committed in their hearts. “Tzedakah is the right thing to do,” Jerry said. “Tzedakah is as much a part of our culture as any part of my Jewishness.”
“The Jewish Future Pledge embodies the spirit of Rabbi Hillel’s quotation: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” As Jews, it is our obligation to strengthen Jewish communal life for future generations. It is also our obligation to carry on the Jewish commitment to tikkun olam and bolster Jewish efforts to create a better world for all. By signing the Jewish Future Pledge, we hope to cultivate meaningful Jewish life that offers spiritual fulfillment, intellectual enrichment, and social connectivity, and to deepen the Jewish community’s capacity to live out its values.”
Robert G. Kuchner, CPA, PFS, is a Retired Partner from Marks Paneth LLP- effective January 2020. He was a partner in its Business Management and Family Office services group.
Prior to merging with Marks Paneth LLP, he was the Managing Partner of Rosenberg, Neuwirth & Kuchner, CPAs, P.C., a Manhattan-based accounting firm that he founded in 1990.
Prior to forming Rosenberg, Neuwirth & Kuchner, he was employed at a Big Four accounting firm where he served as the director of small business services for its middle market services group He has been involved in many initial public offerings, leveraged buyouts and acquisition transactions as well as numerous consulting engagements. He also participated in a one-year rotation as a member of the professional standards review group, which was responsible for that firm’s quality control.
Mr. Kuchner has been awarded the personal financial specialist (PFS) designation by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). He is a member of The All-Star Financial Group a national association of CPAs who specialize in financial and tax planning for clients with high-net-worth and/or unique circumstances.
He attended Hofstra University and received his bachelor’s degree in public accounting. He is a member of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, NYSS CPAs and NJSS CPAs. He is a member of the Federation Board of trustees, Audit Committee, Jewish Community Foundation board of Trustees and Investment committee. Bob is also a Past President of the Jewish Community Foundation, Past Israel/Overseas Chair, Past Federation President- Jewish Federation of Central NJ. He is a member of the Jewish Agency for Israel budget and Finance committee and serves as Chairman of their Audit committee. He is also Chair of the JFNA audit Committee, and past assistant treasurer, and ast member of the executive committee and continues to serve as a member of the budget and finance committee.
Bob has now also taken on the role as Rutgers Hillel president.
Jed Nussbaum is the founder and managing partner of Nut Tree Capital, an investment advisory firm he formed in June 2015. Nut Tree Capital invests primarily in distressed and stressed corporate credit and special situation equities, with a focus on mid-sized companies. Prior to founding Nut Tree, Mr. Nussbaum was a partner at Redwood Capital, which he joined in 2003. At Redwood, Mr. Nussbaum acted as a deputy portfolio manager, covered a wide range of industries as a research analyst and was active in hiring and developing Redwood’s analyst team. Prior to joining Redwood, he worked in the mezzanine debt group at Whitney & Co. (1999-2001) and in the High Yield Finance department at Chase Securities Inc. Mr. Nussbaum holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.A. magna cum laude from Tufts University.
Ariel Nelson works for Geller & Company, which provides custom strategic financial advisory and wealth management solutions for businesses, individuals, families, and not-for-profit organizations. He serves as a divisional CFO for Bloomberg, LP.
Ariel and his family are members of the Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center in Livingston, where he has served as a board member and treasurer. He chaired the Kushner Academy’s Day School Affordability Committee and was a member of Livingston’s Vision 20/20 (long-range planning) and Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committees. For the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, he served as a member of the Young Leadership Council, Arthur Borinsky Young Leadership Program, and Wexner Heritage Program. He received the Julius and Bessie Cohn Young Leadership Award.
President of Federation
After almost 20 years as a highly respected securities analyst for leading investment banks, and six years at AT&T, Steve embarked on a new professional path in late 2005 as an independent director of corporate boards. He currently serves on the board of directors of two publicly held technology companies. At PCTEL, he is the chairman of the board, and sits on the firm’s Audit and Nomination and Governance Committees. At Allot Communications, he is the chairman of the Compensation & Nomination Committee and a member of the Audit Committee.
Steve serves as director on the board of privately held Edison Properties, a leading real estate owner and operator focused on the New York and New Jersey areas. He has also served on the boards of directors of the publicly held companies Tut Systems and Zhone Technologies, and the privately held company Genband Inc.
Prior to retiring from Wall Street in 2005, Steve served as a managing director and global head of communications technology research at Lehman Brothers, as a director of telecommunications research at Salomon Brothers, a managing director and head of the communications research team at Oppenheimer & Co., and a senior communications analyst at Hambrecht & Quist. He was recognized as one of the top analysts in the industry by a variety of independent organizations and surveys, was often quoted in communications trade journals and financial publications, and was regularly interviewed by CNBC, CNN, and other business media.
Steve volunteers his time as a member of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. In the past few years, he has focused on strategic changes to the Federation’s allocation process and on new ideas for making the community’s day schools more affordable. In the past, he also served as president of the Board of Trustees of a community Jewish Day School in Morris County, New Jersey, and he is a founding member of the MetroWest Day School Advisory Council. Along with his wife Beena, he co-chaired a $25 million campaign that will sustain the newly renamed Gottesman RTW Academy for the next 50 years with an entirely new campus and a significant increase in that school’s endowments. He also serves on the Gottesman Family Supporting Foundation as a trustee and chairman of their investment committee.
Aaron Weitman is the Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of CastleKnight Management LP, a hedge fund management company he founded in 2020. CastleKnight invests across equities and credit, deploying event driven, special situations and distressed strategies. Aaron previously was a Senior Partner at Appaloosa LP, a hedge fund, where he joined the investment team in 2004. His main focus had been on equity and corporate credit investments. Aaron received a B.S. in Business Administration (Finance) from Carnegie Mellon University. His volunteer work includes serving on the AIPAC National Council, United Synagogue of Hoboken investment committee, and board of Boys Town Jerusalem of America (investment committee). Pro-Israel/Jewish campus and national activism are focuses of his charitable work through organizations including Alpha Epsilon Pi Foundation, Hillel and Chabad. He lives in Hoboken, NJ with his 3 young children.
“No matter what happens to any of us, the synagogue is a constant.”
Shai Kartus has always had a special relationship to her Judaism and her synagogue, Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell. “I was always more connected than almost any of my peers,” she said. “I always loved going to my synagogue. When my mom became president, it was a really big deal for my family. I was super inspired.” Shai, now 26, became president of her USY chapter, where she met her best friends and her first boyfriend. “It gave me my own experience of leadership apart from my parents and jumpstarted my passion for being involved in the Jewish community.”
At Binghamton University, Shai got involved with Jewish community service projects on campus through Hillel and Chabad. And when she graduated, she chose to make Jewish communal work her profession—she started her first job, at UJA-Federation of New York, the day after graduation. And on her first day at work, she did something that surprised everyone, even her parents.
“She came home from work and said, ‘I want to leave a legacy gift to Agudath Israel. I can put them as beneficiary on my insurance policy,’” Shai’s mother Esther Kartus reported. “She had all the paperwork. My husband and I were blown away.” Agudath Israel is one of 23 local organizations participating in Greater MetroWest’s Create a Jewish Legacy program, a community-wide partnership that helps Jewish organizations approach their donors for legacy gifts in order to ensure that their valuable work can continue far into the future.
“I hadn’t thought about speaking to Shai or my sons about a legacy gift yet—it wouldn’t have occurred to me,” Esther added. She and her husband had made their own legacy gift to Agudath Israel from their IRAs and are planning to add an additional legacy when they redo their wills.
Jewish communal involvement is Shai’s family legacy—and Esther’s as well. “Growing up, I can’t remember a time my mother wasn’t at the shul, cooking,” Esther recalled. Her mother was a past president of her synagogue’s Sisterhood and an incredible role model for volunteering, as were all of Esther’s aunts, who lived in the same town and participated in activities like cooking for seniors in the local nursing home.
When Esther married and moved to Caldwell, it was natural for her to start volunteering. And the fact that the Kartuses found Congregation Agudath Israel so warm and welcoming made it easy for them to feel a part of the community. Twenty-eight years later, after raising three children there, Esther said she still feels the same—and hears that sentiment from newcomers and long-time members alike.
All three Kartus children went through nursery school and Hebrew school at Agudath Israel. “I grew up knowing this was important,” Shai said. “I knew about Legacy Circle because my mom helped to start it after her term as president. I knew the ins and outs of what it meant to leave a legacy gift. So that’s why it struck me right away.”
The Agudath Israel development director helped Shai accomplish her goal of creating a legacy through her life insurance policy. For Shai’s parents, it was an incredible moment. “You want to be a role model for your children, want them to be connected to Jewish community, and you hope they’re paying attention.”
Shai still works at UJA, where she oversees a variety of leadership development and content programs, including a Third-Generation Holocaust Survivors & Supporters group. She hasn’t changed her mind and her passion hasn’t diminished. In fact, she’s working on sharing her enthusiasm with others. “I hope it inspires other people,” she said.
She has taken part in Congregation Agudath Israel’s organized Legacy Shabbats, with hopes to present the Create a Jewish Legacy program to her peers. “It’s a philanthropic opportunity anyone can participate in, a fundraiser everyone can be involved in, because you don’t have to give money now, you can leave a legacy gift,” Shai said. “Through a legacy gift, members who might only be able to give a small amount each year can give back to the community they love so much, in a more meaningful, lasting way.
“The synagogue is the place where I was always most comfortable and always felt at home—my favorite place to be. I want to make sure that people can always feel that way at Agudath because it’s always meant so much to me. No matter what happens to any of us, the synagogue is a constant, and it’s up to our community to make sure it stays that way for generations to come.”
Kenneth Heyman is a senior vice president with UBS Financial Services in Florham Park, NJ. He earned his Certified Financial Planning designation in 1985. He focuses on personal financial planning with his clients, and specializes in consulting services through the analysis, hiring, and monitoring of money managers to achieve pre-determined goals for clients. He has been a member of the firm’s Director’s Council, which recognizes the highest level of production for financial advisors and has been recognized as a top financial advisor by Barron’s and NJ Monthly magazines. Ken has held numerous fundraising positions for Federation over the last 28 years. He was also an officer at JCC MetroWest, Daughters of Israel, Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, and on the board of Israel Bonds.
James Reichek is the managing partner of Dellwood Capital Advisors LLC. He was a managing director at UBS from April 2006 until July 2014. He has held executive level positions in real estate finance and asset management for over 25 years, including global head of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) StabFund Investment Manager, and global head of the UBS Real Estate Finance Group, successfully building a new CMBS origination and principal investing platform with one of the highest levels of capital preservation among the major CMBS originators during the financial crisis. Prior to his positions in commercial real estate finance and asset management, James worked for five years in senior level roles in residential mortgage trading and banking, He has a B.A. in computer science from Brandeis University and an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Chicago.
Howard is the chief operating officer and chief financial officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and the chief financial officer of JCF. He has worked at Federation and JCF for 18 years. Prior to joining Federation, he worked at Paul Scherer and Company, LLP, a certified public accounting firm in New York City, for 20 years, 10 years as a partner. He is a Certified Public Accountant.
In a volunteer capacity, Howard has served as treasurer, Audit Committee chair, Budget Committee chair, and a member of the Executive Committee of Golda Och Academy. He serves on the Executive Committee and is a past chair of the Jewish Federations of North America Financial and Technology Professionals Institute.
Renee Golush is a financial advisor and first vice president with Morgan Stanley in Short Hills. She is a Certified Financial Planner™ with over 25 years of experience in the financial industry. As a financial advisor, she works with clients to define their investment objectives, including retirement planning, college funding, tax reduction, and estate planning. She helps investors meet their goals by delivering investment resources tailored to their particular needs. Renee serves on the boards of JCF and Federation. She served as treasurer of Jewish Federation of Central NJ as well as in other leadership positions.
Peter Langerman is the chairman, president, and CEO of Franklin Mutual Series. He is a co-portfolio manager of the Franklin Mutual Shares Fund, the Franklin Mutual Global Discovery Fund, and related strategies. He initially joined Heine Securities Corporation (predecessor of Franklin Mutual Advisers, LLC) in June 1986. Prior to 1986, he was employed by Weil, Gotshal & Manges, one of the country’s foremost specialists in large corporate bankruptcies and reorganizations. Peter began his professional career in 1977 serving on the audit staff of Arthur Young and Company. He graduated magna cum laude from Yale University, and holds a B.A. in Russian Studies. He earned an M.A. in accounting from New York University Graduate School of Business and his Juris Doctor degree from Stanford University Law School.
Gary Aidekman is president of Highview Capital Corp., a family investment firm. An alumnus of Tufts University, he earned a law degree at Boston University and was a practicing attorney before joining Supermarkets General Corp (SGC). He is a past president and current board member of Jewish Federation. He has served as chair of the Salaries and Personnel Practices Committee, campaign chair of UJA of MetroWest NJ, chair of the Israel Religious Pluralism Committee, and chair of the Unified Allocations Committee. A founding member of the Board of the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, Gary is a past chair and current member of its Investment Committee. He is also on the Board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
Jeff Braemer is a senior vice president, product manager in TimesSquare Capital Management’s growth equity group. His responsibilities include client servicing as well as portfolio and attribution analysis and general investment research. Prior to joining TimesSquare in 2008, he was a director of client service and marketing at Jacobs Levy Equity Management, where he co-led the client service and portfolio analysis department. Prior to Jacobs Levy, Jeff was a product specialist at Batterymarch Financial Management for U.S. and non-U.S. equity portfolios. He has a B.A. in political science from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.S. in management from Boston University. He is a member of the CFA Institute and the New York Society of Security Analysts. He holds FINRA Series 7 and 63 licenses. Jeff is a past president and current trustee/council member of the Grotta Fund for Senior Care.
Neil Goldstein is the chief executive officer of Darmel Management LLC. He started his Wall Street career in 1973 at Bankers Trust, and worked at Lehman Brothers; at the hedge fund S.B. Lewis and Co., in which he was a founding partner; and at the private investment bank American Securities, where he held various positions including president. Neil’s first proprietary fund, Pine Street Partners, LP, was established in 1986, preceding the commencement of his own management company, Darmel Management. Under the Darmel banner, he started several onshore and offshore funds specializing in a variety of event-driven strategies. Neil has been a trustee and executive committee member of both JCF and Federation. He is a past president of JCF and served as chairman of the Investment Committee for over ten years. Neil received a B.S. from Case Western Reserve University and an M.S. in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Jay Kaplan is a portfolio manager and principal for Royce & Associates, LP, investment adviser to The Royce Funds. He manages Royce Small-Cap Value Fund and Royce Capital Fund – Small-Cap Portfolio. He also serves as portfolio manager for Royce Pennsylvania Mutual, Total Return, and Dividend Value Funds (all with Chuck Royce as lead portfolio manager). He has 28 years of investment industry experience. Prior to joining Royce & Associates in November 2000, Jay spent 12 years with The Prudential, most recently as managing director and portfolio manager for the Prudential Small Company Value Fund. Jay holds a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a master of business administration from New York University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
Steven Klinghoffer is president of WPI Communications, Inc., which publishes marketing newsletters for professionals. He is also vice president and a member of the board of directors of Valcor Engineering Corp., which designs and manufactures fluid control and motion control devices for aerospace, nuclear, and commercial applications. In addition to serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of Federation since 1990, Steven has served as commissioner for the Essex County Improvement Authority since 2000 and as a board member of AIPAC since 2013. Steven earned his bachelor’s degree from Boston University School of Management, and his J.D. from Boston University School of Law.
Sam Pearlstein has been the co-head of equity research at Wells Fargo Securities since November 2005. He is also the senior Aerospace & Defense (A&D) analyst. He rejoined the firm in June 2005 as a managing director and senior A&D sector analyst from Jefferies Asset Management, where he was a senior analyst focusing on aerospace, defense, and industrial stocks. Sam was previously the senior A&D analyst in Jefferies’ equity research department. Prior to joining Jefferies in 2003, he was Wachovia’s senior A&D equity analyst. Sam has been the president of the Aerospace Analysts Society. He earned his BS in systems engineering from The University of Pennsylvania and his MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business.
David Pulver is president of Cornerstone Capital, Inc., a private investment company involved in a wide range of investments, including public securities, private equity, venture capital, and real estate. Prior to starting Cornerstone Capital, he was chairman and co-CEO of The Children’s Place, a chain of over 1,000 children’s apparel stores, which he co-founded in 1968 and sold in 1982 to Federated Department Stores. He is on the advisory committee of FLAG Capital Management, a leading venture capital/private equity fund of funds. He previously served on the Board of Directors of Costco Wholesale and Hearst-Argyle Television. David earned his B.A. from Colby College and his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Michael Weinstock is CEO and co-portfolio manager of Monarch Alternative Capital. Prior to founding Monarch in March 2002, he was a managing director of Lazard and served as co-portfolio manager of the Lazard Debt Recovery Funds. Under his leadership, Lazard’s distress debt research team was ranked #1 in the distressed debt category by Institutional Investor magazine in 1998. Prior to joining Lazard, Michael joined R.D. Smith & Co., a pioneer in the field of distressed debt investing. Prior to that, he was an investment banker for seven years at Salomon Brothers and Goldman Sachs working on corporate finance, securitization, and mergers and acquisitions transactions. Michael earned a B.S. in economics, Summa Cum Laude, from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Paula Gottesman is a pioneering philanthropist who has created model programs in day school education that have greatly enhanced Greater MetroWest, NJ and helped shape the national landscape in the areas of affordability and endowment development.
In 1998, Paula and her husband, Jerry z”l, began one of the nation’s first tuition subvention programs at a Jewish day school. The program spurred many similar programs in other communities and foreshadowed a national discussion on helping middle-income families afford Jewish day school. In 2007, the Gottesmans created the largest program endowment in the history of the Greater MetroWest community by endowing the Gottesman RTW Academy tuition program and partnering with other donors to create major endowments for day schools across the community. The Gottesmans also led the establishment of an innovative and highly successful Jewish camp initiative in Greater MetroWest.
A retired attorney, Paula is a past president of JCF, among many other roles.
Peter Langerman is the chairman, president, and CEO of Franklin Mutual Series. He is a co-portfolio manager of the Franklin Mutual Shares Fund, the Franklin Mutual Global Discovery Fund, and related strategies. He initially joined Heine Securities Corporation (predecessor of Franklin Mutual Advisors LLC). in June 1986. He served as CEO of Franklin Mutual Series and as the chairman of the fund boards before leaving in 2002 to serve as the director of New Jersey’s Division of Investment, overseeing employee pension funds. He rejoined Franklin Mutual Series in 2005.
Peter holds degrees in both accounting and law. Prior to 1986, he worked at the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, one of the country’s foremost specialists in large corporate bankruptcies and reorganizations. He began his professional career in 1977 on the audit staff of Arthur Young and Company, where he earned his CPA designation.
Peter serves as chair of the JCF Investment Committee. He serves on the board of the All Stars Project of New Jersey and the advisory board of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. In 2010 he was selected to serve as one of three trustees of the AIG Credit Facility Trust, which held the U.S. government’s controlling interest in American International Group.
Renee Golush is a financial advisor and first vice president with Morgan Stanley in the Short Hills, NJ office. She is a Certified Financial Planner™ with over 25 years of experience in the financial industry. As a financial advisor, she works with clients to define their investment objectives whether it be retirement planning, college funding, tax reduction, or estate planning.
Renee serves on the board of trustees of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. She is a member of the JCF investment committee and Create a Jewish Legacy. She served as treasurer of the Jewish Federation of Central NJ and held several leadership positions. She is a member of Temple Emanu-El in Westfield and serves on the Council of Trustees of the New Jersey Performing Art Center.
Jonathan Liss is an attorney and a director at Gibbons P.C., one of the largest law firms based in New Jersey. With more than 20 years of experience as a commercial litigator, he focuse his practice on resolving complex business and corporate disputes, with an emphasis on shareholder and corporate governance disputes, trust and estate litigation, business torts, commercial contract disputes, and general commercial litigation.
Jonathan and his family live in West Orange and are members of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell and Congregation Etz Chaim in Livingston. In addition to serving on the JCF board, he is a member of the board of trustees of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, where he is a past chair of the Young Leadership Division, now known as NextDor, and the Budget and Finance Committee, and currently serves as chair of the Security Committee. He is a past member of the board of trustees of Golda Och Academy, a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Program, and a recipient of the Julius and Bessie Cohn Young Leadership Award.
Michael Schechner is CEO of Schechner Lifson Corporation, which he joined in 1988 after graduating from Princeton University and earning his MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Within the firm, Michael is partner-in-charge of the Legacy and Lifestyle Protection and Employee Benefits departments. He earned his CLU degree in 1996 and is well versed in life, disability, and long-term care insurance policy design and underwriting. He is also familiar with advanced uses of life insurance including non-qualified benefit plans, golden handcuff programs, and using life insurance policies as a wealth building and supplemental retirement tool.
Michael serves on the Boards of Trustees of the Hebrew Free Loan of NJ, Center for Jewish Life/Hillel at Princeton University, Oheb Shalom Cemetery Association, and Congregation Oheb Shalom in South Orange.
Dov Ben-Shimon is the executive vice president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. Prior to joining Federation in September 2014, he served as assistant executive vice president and director of strategic partnerships at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), where he was a resource to American Jewish leaders on global Jewish needs and JDC’s programs and priorities.
Previously, Dov was major gifts officer at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, director of resources for the Israeli Reform Movement in Jerusalem, chargé d’affaires at the Israeli Embassy in Luanda, Angola, and assistant spokesman to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
Born in England, Dov moved to Israel at the age of 18. He served as an Air Force rescue medic and Infantry combat medic in the Israel Defense Forces, and saw active duty in both the Gaza and Lebanon fronts, with the rank of staff sergeant.
Kim Hirsh is executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
For more than a decade, Kim has worked closely with philanthropic families of JCF to fulfill their vision and help transform and secure vital areas of our Jewish community, including Jewish day school education, Jewish camp, Birthright Israel, PJ Library and Jewish teen philanthropy and service learning programs. She is known nationally for partnering with philanthropists to create one of the first community-wide endowment programs for Jewish day schools as well as a national model communal Jewish camp initiative.
Prior to joining JCF in 2005, Kim was development director of the Gottesman RTW Academy (formerly Hebrew Academy of Morris County). Before entering the field of fundraising and planned giving, Kim worked for nearly 20 years as a newspaper and magazine journalist and public relations professional. Kim is an active volunteer in the community, having served on the capital-endowment committees of her alma mater, Newark Academy, and of Gottesman RTW Academy, from which her three children graduated.
Gary R. Botwinick is co-managing partner of Einhorn, Barbarito, Frost & Botwinick, P.C. and chair of the firm’s Tax/Trusts and Estates practice group, which he developed over the past 20 years. Gary began his career as a US Tax Court litigator for the IRS and then as an associate for a large New Jersey firm. At Einhorn Barbarito, he provides his clients with advice in all legal areas including planning for unique family challenges, business succession, premarital planning, and charitable planning, always while focusing on keeping his clients updated on cutting-edge issues in the law.
Gary is a sought-after speaker on a variety of tax, trusts and estates topics and has authored numerous articles on taxation and estate planning. He also donates his time and efforts to assist nonprofit and charitable organizations on all legal matters.
“Leaving a Legacy is For Everyone”
Joan Levinson’s commitment to the Jewish community began when she was growing up in Plainfield, NJ. Her parents, who were both actively involved in their synagogue and the JCC, planted the first seeds at an early age. When Joan and her husband Les moved back to New Jersey from New York City as young newlyweds, it felt natural for her to get involved in the Federation.
She became active in the Young Women’s Division, attending many programs and making lots of friends, and she ultimately served as president of the group from 1990 to 1992. At the end of her term, she became the first recipient of the Rhoda Rosenbach Young Leadership Award, earning a space on a national women’s mission to Israel.
“I was 37 years old when I took that trip,” Joan says, “and that experience sealed the deal for me. It wowed me.” It wasn’t her first trip to Israel, but she was able to see for the first time how an individual could have a profound impact on others through their caring and, of course, their generosity.
“Most of the women on that trip were similar to the people I know – not necessarily affluent in their communities. What they did have was a lot of heart, a lot of passion, and a lot of dedication, and they had all made the choice to do whatever they could to help. I wanted to be just like them.”
Joan had planned for many years to become a Lion of Judah ($5,000 donor), and in 2006, right around her 50th birthday, she did it. She was so proud of this accomplishment and of being a part of this incredible group of committed and dedicated women. Several years later, she became aware of the concept of endowing her Lion gift, learning that you can endow a gift at any level and that then, upon your death, your gift will continue to be given forever. This means that each year, when the campaign begins on July 1, the Jewish Federation starts out with almost $2 million, due to the foresight of donors who left a legacy for the future of your Jewish community. Joan was blown away by this supreme level of commitment.
“I hope to live for many more years,” said Joan, now 63, but after a breast cancer scare more than 15 years ago, she knows there are just no guarantees in life.
Joan has worked her entire adult life in the field of early childhood education. She and her husband live in the same home they purchased 30 years ago, and there are still renovations she would like to make. They have put two daughters through college. The money she gives to the Federation each year is money that they could easily spend on something else, but she has always been acutely aware of the value of supporting the Federation. “There are a lot people who think that charitable giving is for the wealthy alone,” Joan says. “I’m here to tell you that leaving a charitable legacy is for everyone.”
“I Felt Personally Responsible for Making My Mark Now”
Rebecca Gold has been an active volunteer with Federation for 18 years, and it was her dedication to Federation brought her to the Jewish Community Foundation.
She chaired the Federation’s Golda, Pomegranate, and Lion of Judah Campaigns. She is the immediate past president of Women’s Philanthropy. She helped developed the Philanthropy 101 program, and was an active facilitator and trainer for this outreach and education initiative. She’s an alumna of both National Young Leadership Cabinet and the Wexner Heritage Leadership Program.
She became a Lion in 2006. “I was very aware of the Lion of Judah Endowment (LOJE) for a long time. But I really thought of it as something people do later in their life.
At 54, though, Rebecca decided she didn’t want to wait until later. “It was important for me to demonstrate the power of a woman’s gift, and set an example for other women who were still actively working—don’t wait for retirement! And I wanted to set an example for my children.”
Rebecca created her LOJE through an insurance policy, and it was easier than she expected. “I look at it as an investment in my community—I felt personally responsible for making my mark now, rather than leaving it for my children to do on my behalf, after I’m gone.”
As someone who cares about social action, she wants to do that work through a Jewish conduit. “I care deeply about Jewish community, here and all over the world,” she says. “Through our local agencies and our overseas partners like the Jewish Agency, JDC, and ORT, I can reach more people than in any other way. Giving through our Federation is the best bang for my buck.”
“My husband says, ‘Hope is not a strategy.’ It’s not enough for me to hope our Jewish community will thrive. I felt it was time to make a permanent gift. And it’s important for me to protect and build on my own investment by encouraging others to join me. By supporting the Jewish Community Foundation, I am part of ensuring our success.”
“Legacy Giving Ensures a Vibrant Future for Our Jewish Community”
It all started with Steve, whose involvement with the Greater MetroWest Jewish community stretches back to the late 1970s. “It’s a long-term relationship,” he says. When he was president of Jewish Family Services in the late ‘80s, through working with donors and showing them projects, Steve was introduced to JCF. He served on the Foundation’s board for several years, and he continues his commitment to JCF as a long-time member of the Investment Committee.
Meanwhile, Lori was busy raising the kids—until, she says, “I got bit by the bug, thanks to a few persistent women.” She became involved in the Federation’s Women’s Division, which is now our Women’s Philanthropy, taking on progressively more responsible roles culminating in terms as Federation president and chair of National Women’s Philanthropy. “Steve ignited the spark in me—he’s the enabler and empowerer. It’s become a family business.”
Steve and Lori established a small donor-advised fund and involved their daughters, who now have children of their own. As a family, they review grants and make allocations on an annual basis. Steve advises others to follow their example. “I’ve had the opportunity over a lot of years to be a salesperson for the Foundation,” he says. His pitch is a business approach: “Donor-advised funds are simply a very effective way to give.”
“It’s important to us as a family to be engaged Jewishly,” Lori said. “We want to maintain that legacy, and legacy giving ensures a vibrant future for our Jewish community.”
Lori and Steve believe that the role of the Foundation is critical to the future of the Federation and the future success of the Jewish community. “Maintaining relevance and having the flexibility to change require investment, and we’re proud to be among those setting an example. Leadership is about keeping an eye on the horizon, focusing on the future of our community, and motivating others to share that vision. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to inspire involvement and build connections toward a bright Jewish future for our children, our grandchildren, and generations to come.”
Jewish Responsibility, and Keeping an Eye on the Future
Sanford “Sandy” Hollander grew up in the rural town of Newton in Sussex County, where he still lives today. His father, an immigrant from Czarist Russia (now Belarus), settled there because he liked the bucolic landscape. He built a family and a small house painting business. There were a handful of Jews in the town– most of them poor. But on the High Holidays, Sandy recounts, the congregants in the small shul would bid for the honors during the services.
“The biggest honor of them all,” he said, “was to open the ark during the Yom Kippur afternoon service. Year after year, that honor went to Schmya, a poor but pious rag trader in town.” One year, when Sandy was eight or nine years old, there was a rumor that Nathan, the nonobservant wealthy baker, was going to bid against Schmya. In the bidding war that ensued, Sandy’s father outbid Nathan and paid $100 – an astronomical sum at that time – then handed the honor over to his friend Schmya. That evening at home, Sandy listened as his mother scolded her husband for spending money they couldn’t afford. His father calmly responded, “What better thing could I do with our money?”
This was the first time he saw an example of “Jewish responsibility” – he prefers this phrase to “philanthropy” – demonstrated by his father. Sandy uses this, along with many other memories and his phenomenal gift for storytelling, in one of his proudest roles: as a volunteer fundraiser for Jewish Federation for more than 50 years.
After graduating from Columbia University, becoming a lawyer, and meeting his wife Roz, Sandy moved back to Newton to build his own family and career. He discovered the UJA Annual Campaign when he took on legal representation of a local Jewish businessman who conducted the campaign in their area. When this man died, Sandy inherited the role, and, as with any responsibility he’s faced, he took it very seriously. In his first year, 1967, he raised $13,000 in Newton, making him “a bit of a legend” in the New Jersey Jewish community. This promising young fundraiser was invited to participate in the Young Leadership Cabinet Mission to Israel, launching his life-long love of the country.
As a small-town attorney, Sandy often felt intimidated by the large gifts many of his colleagues, major donors, were able to make, but he soon realized that each person is responsible for making a quality gift within their own means. As long as he was doing so, he felt comfortable asking others to do the same.
Sandy served in many Jewish communal leadership positions, including on the Executive Committee of National UJA and as a member of the Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governors. He was also one of the founding members of the Morris Sussex Jewish Federation, working with Seymour Epstein and Dan Drench to build the small organization that merged into the much larger Federation of MetroWest in 1983.
When Seymour passed away, the Epstein Fund was established, dedicated to developing a leadership mission in Israel to engage the next generation of community leaders. Participants learned the value of sharing personal stories when soliciting gifts. Sandy participated in each of these missions, teaching the next generation to take the reins of leadership.
Throughout his 50+-year involvement in our Federation, and now, as a proud member of the Ner Tamid Society, Sandy Hollander has always kept an eye on the future. He’s passionate about his work with future leaders and about his involvement in the Ness Foundation, which is dedicated to the development of the Negev region in Israel and is critical to the future of Israel. And he is passionate about endowing his gift.
“Roz and I decided to endow our gift to Federation as an extension of what we’ve always been doing. We are committed to the Jewish community. We are committed to the survival of the Jewish State and of the nearly 9 million Jews living there. We are committed to taking care of the Jews still living in the former Soviet Union. We are committed to a thriving and creative Jewish life in the United States. As Jews, we have a responsibility for all of these things.”
Sandy’s endowed gift will ensure his impact on the Jewish community for generations to come.
She became active in the Young Women’s Division, attending many program and making lots of friends, and she ultimately served as president of the group from 1990 to 1992. At the end of her term, she became the first recipient of the Rhoda Rosenbach Young Leadership Award, earning a space on a national women’s mission to Israel in March 1993.
“I’m Confident in the Future of Our Community”
Martin Fox comes from a family of Federation leadership. “My father was a VP of Federation close to 100 years ago,” he says. “I remember as a kid, Federation talk around our dinner table was common. I was taught that involvement and contributing was part of the essence of our being.”
As an adult, Martin was busy day and night with Federation business. “I loved it, it was wonderful, it was fun,” he says. He served on every committee, eventually taking on the role of Federation president. His spirit of involvement extended to the general community: “I was twice a Democratic candidate for Congress, and I volunteered during civil rights movement.”
Martin was thrilled to pass down this legacy of Jewish engagement to his two daughters, a doctor and lawyer, and to his grandchildren. He’s proud that all of them are involved in Jewish life.
“JCF is essential to the future of the Federation and our community,” he says. “Pressures on giving in the general community are growing. Having an endowment will preserve the Federation from the variabilities of fundraising. It’s important to build endowment by gifts during life and from estates.
“I’m confident in the future of our community, because I’ve seen how it continues from generation to generation. Federation has changed with the times, but as a place for exchanging ideas and finding solutions, it’s more important than ever. It’s almost 100 years old, and it still works.”
Sandra Sherman is a founding partner and co-chair of the Tax and Trusts & Estates Group of the firm of Sherman Wells Sylvester & Stamelman LLP in Florham Park, NJ, and New York City. She lectures frequently on tax, trust and estate, and nonprofit topics, and has published her work on multiple occasions in national journals devoted to those topics.
Sandra has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America since 2006, and was named to the Worth Magazine list of 100 top attorneys in the U.S. in 2007 and 2008. She was selected as one of the Best 50 Women in Business in NJBIZ in 2008.
Sandra serves as a trustee, secretary, and executive committee member of the New Jersey Health Foundation, and a board member of the Foundation Venture Capital Group, LLC. She is a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, and a member of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Planned Giving Tax Force. She is a director of the F.M. Kirby Foundation.
Robert G. Kuchner, CPA, PFS, is a partner at Marks Paneth LLP. He serves a diverse spectrum of privately-owned companies and their owners as well as clients in the theater, media, and entertainment industries. He also provides business management and family office services to a varied client base.
He was the managing partner of Rosenberg, Neuwirth & Kuchner, CPAs, P.C., a Manhattan-based accounting firm that he founded in 1990. He played an active role in that firm’s growth and development until it combined with Marks Paneth LLP in 2013. Prior to forming Rosenberg, Neuwrith & Kuchner, he was employed at a Big Four accounting firm as the director of small business services for its middle market services group.
Robert has been awarded the personal financial specialist (PFS) designation by the American Institute of CPAs). He is a member of The All-Star Financial Group, LLC, a national association of CPAs who specialize in financial and tax planning for clients with high-net-worth and/or unique circumstances.
He chairs the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Audit Committee and is a member of its Budget and Finance Committee. He also holds or has held leadership roles at Hofstra University, Rutgers Hillel, UJA-Federation of New York, the Jewish Federations of North America, and North American Friends of Amcha Israel. He is a past president of Jewish Federation of Central NJ.