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honoring our past,
present, & future

As you make your way through this interactive timeline, you'll meet the groundbreaking leaders who built the community we value today, you'll learn about the pivotal moments that shaped our path, and you'll see the countless ways we've come together through good times and bad to make lives better. Enjoy the journey!

All archival material courtesy of Federation's Jewish Historical Society of Greater MetroWest NJ

Explore our history
Leadership in the 1920s
President, Conference of Jewish Charities
1920s Image

A small group of visionary philanthropists recognizes the need to fundraise for and support all the Jewish service agencies under one umbrella organization. 

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Stronger Together

Department store founders and famed philanthropists Felix Fuld and Louis Bamberger (l-to-r) join other local German Jewish leaders Nathan Bilder, Leo Stein, Martin H. Goldsmith, and Frank D. Liveright in signing incorporation papers that establish the Conference of Jewish Charities of Newark, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ’s predecessor, to merge the missions of 13 independent agencies in the city.

A Cultural Center
is Born

The YMHA of Newark NJ was first established in 1877 when the Jewish community of Newark organized the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA) in the vestry rooms of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. The result of that meeting was the founding of the YMHA with Franklin Marx as the first presidentBy 1881, the group moved into a three-story brick building on Plane Street renamed “Hebrew Hall.” It housed a gymnasium, bowling alley, dance hall/auditorium, and bar. In 1908, the YWHA was established and by 1921, the official name became the YM-YWHA of Newark 

In 1922, construction begins on a new building and in 1924 the High Street “Y” opens its doors. “The Y on High” brings giants of American history like folksinger Woody Guthrie and aviator Amelia Earhart to Newark’s Jewish community, making the city a cultural crossroads in a mythic era of achievement and ambition.

Healing the World (one patient at a time)

“Miss Beth” becomes the new face of fundraising for Newark Beth Israel Hospital (founded in 1901). The hospital (now Newark Beth Israel Medical Center) is open to all faiths and will have many addresses in the city, as seen here, before landing at its current location.

United We Give

The term “United Jewish Appeal” originates here in 1926, when the annual fundraising drives of the three major local Jewish philanthropic groups merge into one campaign.

The name later becomes famous worldwide with its adoption by the national UJA in 1939, now the best-known of all such Jewish organizations.

Lest We Forget

As early as 1904, a group of women led by Blume Hollander discussed the need for finding a place where elderly and homeless Jewish seniors could be housed. Two years later, Israel’s Daughters Home for the Aged was incorporated, becoming the first Jewish home for the elderly in New Jersey. The name was changed to Daughters of Israel Home for the Aged in 1908.

By 1928, the Daughters of Israel Home for the Aged, a Newark fixture since 1906, needs to expand to a building on High Street that Newark Beth Israel Hospital had outgrown. Today it is Daughters of Israel, an acclaimed elder-care facility and partner agency of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

Leadership in the 1930s
President, Conference of Jewish Charities
President, Essex County Council of Jewish Agencies
1930s Image

Progressive efforts result in enhanced community resources for employment, Jewish education, and the active role of women leaders.  

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A Y in Elizabeth

Doors open at the Elizabeth YM-YWHA’s new building on East Jersey Street.

It will move again in 1953 and be renamed Harry Lebau Jewish Center on Green Lane in Union, where it remains today. Pictured here are Harry and his wife, Mary, in front of the dedication plaque.

Jewish Council of Elizabeth

Eighteen organizations in Union County form a Jewish Council of Elizabeth to organize the community into an overall agency for relief wherever needed. They disband later in this decade.

Thought Leadership

The community honors perhaps its most famous refugee and soon-to-be New Jerseyan, Albert Einstein (seated at lower-right), as the 20th century’s leading mind visits The Mosque Theatre (formerly a Shriners lodge, now Newark Symphony Hall).

1936 / Today
Another Giant Step for Women

Women’s commitment is the core of our community from the start, but it is in 1936 that the first Women’s Division (now Women’s Philanthropy) is founded within Federation.

“It isn’t enough to feel sorry for starving, homeless people. We must also do something about it. The only way to do [that] is to have thousands working together.” — Sara Blum, President of the Women’s Division, 1946-47

Doing the Work

The Community Employment Service (now Jewish Vocational Service or JVS) is founded in Newark to serve Jews facing deprivation and discrimination after the Great Depression, JVS eventually finds meaningful work for refugees during and after WWII.

Between 1939 and 1954, it would find a total of 5,000 jobs for applicants. It expands its services to non-Jews in 1957, and to this day provides career counseling, skills-building, job training, and more for a wide and diverse community.

UJA Goes National

National United Jewish Appeal is formed, and the Federation becomes a charter member in support of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).

Leadership in the 1940s
President, Essex County Council of Jewish Agencies
President, Jewish Community Council of Essex County
President, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ
1940s Image

During and after World War II, our community welcomes and supports refugees and Holocaust survivors. We also work to help build civil society in the newly created State of Israel. 

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Elizabeth Jewish Council

The situation in Europe is growing increasingly worse, prompting 31 Jewish organizations to establish a new organization called The Elizabeth Jewish Council with Samuel Koestler as its president and Harry Lebau as executive secretary.


Legacy of Learning

Rabbi Pinchas Teitz founds the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth. Today it is a vibrant complex of three Orthodox schools — the Lower School; JEC High School for Boys; and Bruriah High School for Girls — which stand on the same spot today.

1941 / Today
School Days (and Decades)

The Yeshiva of Newark is founded in 1942. The school’s journey progresses to relocations in South Orange, Hillside, and West Caldwell (Yeshiva of Newark, followed by the Hebrew Youth Institute, Hebrew Academy of Essex County, and eventually Hebrew Youth Academy which moves to West Caldwell in 1977) and ultimately evolves into the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, a top-ranked Modern Orthodox yeshiva.

1942 / Today
Seder for Soldiers

Members of the community prepare the components of a Passover Seder and dinner, including 1,000 pieces of gefilte fish, at the Elizabeth Y and transport them to 400 soldiers at Camp Kilmer in Piscataway. Pictured here are volunteers including Mary Lebau at the stove.

Aiding the War Effort at Home

The Elizabeth YM-YMHA holds down the home front during WWII, serving as a U.S.O. headquarters which hosts thousands of servicemen and women for seders, dances, and other social events.

Read All About It

Conceived as a fund-raising tool for the 1946 UJA campaign by the Jewish Community Council of Essex County, The Jewish News is a weekly paper that discusses current events in the Jewish world. The first issue is published on March 15, 1946.

By April 30, 1946, the Jewish Community Council meets at the YM-YWHA in Newark and agrees to take a close look at how a newspaper could play a role in the local community. The newspaper is initially intended to have its production run throughout the 1946 UJA Campaign to serve as its newsletter…

The Paper of Record

… It becomes apparent that the paper will be a service to the community as it chronicles the social, religious, personal, and business developments of the community. In addition to these local issues, its pages include national and world events affecting the community; Jewish culture and the arts; and Jewish holidays, celebrations, and other topics of interest. The Council purchases the competing local paper, Jewish Times, and soon thereafter The Jewish News is incorporated on January 3, 1947. 

Origins of JFS MetroWest

Jewish Family Service of MetroWest dates back to Newark in 1861 when a small group called the Young Men’s Benevolent Society formed to help needy Jewish families in the area. In 1876 it became the Hebrew Benevolent and Orphan Asylum Society. Finally, in 1947, what is then Jewish Social Service is reorganized as Jewish Family Service of Essex County. As mergers follow, that society evolves into what is today Jewish Family Service of MetroWest.

They Haven’t Landed Yet

Through its 1948 Destiny Campaign, the United Jewish Appeal sets out to raise $4.5 million to help with establishment of the State of Israel and help refugees from war-ravaged Europe build a new life there.

Aid for Israel

In 1948 Golda Meir (then Golda Myerson) comes to the U.S. to help raise immediate cash aid to meet the needs of the newborn State of Israel. The Jewish Community Council of Essex County responds generously by donating $500,000. Meir returns several times post-Statehood to secure ongoing funding. 

The Founding of our Foundation

On January 31, 1949, the Secretary of the State of New Jersey certifies the incorporation of the Jewish Community Foundation, now one of the two largest community foundations in New Jersey and among the top ten Jewish community foundations in North America with $600 million in assets under management, and more than $100 million in future commitments.

Leadership in the 1950s
President, Jewish Community Council of Essex County
President, Jewish Community Foundation
1950s Image

As the Jewish population begins moving from the urban centers to surrounding suburbs during this era of prosperity and growth, three unique Federations emerge, serving  Essex County, Morris and Sussex Counties, and Central NJ. 

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Israel’s First Woman Prime Minister Speaks

The activist Golda Myerson (Meir) addresses the community in Newark at a pivotal time for both the area and a young Israel.

JFS Central Comes to Be

United Hebrew Charity Organization in Elizabeth changes its name to Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey.

By 1912 an amalgamation of existing Jewish welfare organizations had formed the United Hebrew Charity Organization in Elizabeth. The constitution states that the purpose was “to provide funds and maintain all Hebrew charity buildings… and also to provide and distribute funds in assisting the poor.”


Relocating with the Population

With Newark’s changing demographics, the High Street “Y” closes in 1954. After a vigorous fundraising campaign, it will reopen its doors at a new location on Chancellor Avenue in 1959. Then, as many in the community moved to the suburbs, the Y will move again in 1967 to its current location on Northfield Avenue in West Orange. 

Delegation Heads to Israel

At Israeli Airport in 1954, Golda Meir welcomes a delegation from Essex County who travelled to Israel to update Meir about the first sale of Israel Bonds in the United States. Pictured here (left to right) are Henry Montor (holding hat); Golda Meir, then Labor Minister of Israel; and Joel Gross (far right holding jacket).

First Ladies of MetroWest

Martha Silverschein, known as the “founding mother” of Rockaway, New Jersey’s White Meadow Temple, hosts Eleanor Roosevelt, a champion of human rights, people displaced by World War II, the founding of Israel, and other causes of crucial Jewish concern.

Light Unto the Nations

Lord Mayor Robert Briscoe, the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ireland, was very active in Jewish causes. He was the guest speaker at the UJA Special Gifts dinner in March of 1957 as part of a fundraising tour in the U.S. to support Jewish refugees. Here he is pictured (at left) “applying the taper to the torch,” with (left to right) Samuel Klein, general chairman of the 1957 United Jewish Appeal campaign; Ralph Wechsler, president of the Jewish Community Council of Essex County; Martin Levin, UJA Special Gifts chairman; and Newark Mayor Leo P. Carlin.

A Corps of Care

Rabbis Zev Segal and Jeshaia Schnitzer, together with Jewish Community Council of Essex County’s then Director of Social Planning Saul Schwarz, establish the Joint Chaplaincy Committee to see to the spiritual needs of patients in Newark Beth Israel Hospital. Rabbi Schnitzer is seen still at work in a 1979 photo (center). Director Cecile Asekoff (pictured) led the agency for 40 years, until 2019.

Today, Federation chaplains make more than 5,000 visits each year to provide spiritual care to patients, family members, and staff in dozens of facilities and private homes.

Leadership in the 1960s
President, Jewish Community Council of Essex County
President, Jewish Community Foundation
1960s Image

Our Jewish community actively participates in the civil rights movement on the home front, while at the same time strengthens our commitment to Zionism and supporting Israel through volunteerism and fundraising. 

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Bending the Arc

The first time Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks during synagogue services, it is in our community, at Temple Sha’rey Shalom in Springfield.

Here he is pictured with community leaders (left to right) Howard Kiesel, Natalie Waldt, and Rabbi Israel Dresner. It is a milestone in the embrace between two cultures who understand one another’s struggles and recognize the need to join in common purpose. 

“At Bruriah, I Can”

Bruriah High School is established as the only Jewish day school providing upper-school education for girls in New Jersey. 

Seen here is the first graduating class in 1967 and Bruriah students today.

1963 / Today
Teaching Our Children Well

Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union opens in Cranford, becoming the first PreK-12 Solomon Schechter school in the U.S. and Canada. The school flourishes with a vibrant and rigorous dual curriculum in secular studies and Jewish culture.

Today two campuses in West Orange carry on the tradition, renamed Golda Och Academy in 2010 to honor a community member’s lifetime of service.

1965 / Today
Eternal Light Vigil

A group of teens from the Young Judah group of Congregation B’nai Abraham with teens from the National Council of Young Israel join more than 20 groups from Essex County who travel to Washington D.C. to participate in the national Eternal Light Vigil demonstrating against Soviet discrimination against the USSR’s 3 million Jews. 

One of Many Missions

Leaders from our Federation community join more than 200 Jewish leaders from 37 communities in 21 states, on the United Jewish Appeal’s 12th annual study mission in Israel. Participants spend 13 days surveying the extensive immigrant absorption programs established by the Jewish Agency for Israel and evaluating how our work can help further their efforts.

Finishing the Job

An interim figure of $2,544,000 (the best in 18 years) is announced at UJA Victory Night at Temple Israel of the Oranges and Maplewood where more than 200 campaign chairmen and workers gather to celebrate. Pictured (left to right) are Sidney E. Leiwant, Jerome Meier, David Slobodien, Donald H. Benjamin, and Hymen B. Mintz.

Second Homecoming

The new YM-YWHA of Essex County (now the Leon & Toby Cooperman JCC, Ross Family Campus) opens on Northfield Avenue in West Orange. After Newark’s three largest synagogues, Oheb Shalom Congregation, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, and Temple B’nai Abraham leave the city, this relocation completes the community’s historic shift to the suburbs. Pictured here laying the cornerstone are Janet Lowenstein, president of the Y, and Martin Levin, chairman of the Y’s building committee and president-elect of the Y.


Hebrew Academy of Morris County

In September 1967, Hebrew Academy of Morris County (HAMC) opens with 18 students in the basement of Morristown Jewish Center. Over the next decade HAMC moves from venue to venue until it secures a site on Dover Chester Road in Randolph in the late 1970s. In September 1980, a new school building is ready for the 121 students enrolled.

The school continues to expand and grow and then, in 2014, The Gottesman Family Supporting Foundation of the JCF of Greater MetroWest NJ helps to raise the funds for the school’s new building. In honor of the generosity and support of Jerry z”l and Paula Gottesman and in recognition of the founding families – Rubenstein, Turner and Wertheimer – the school is renamed Gottesman RTW Academy. Groundbreaking for a new 34,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art green building occurs on March 2, 2014 and the community celebrates the grand opening of the new building and campus as students ceremoniously marched with the Torah to kick off the new school year in September 2015.

1967 / Today
Bearing Witness

Community member and longtime public servant Sam Convissor discusses the Governor’s Select Commission for the Study of Civil Disorder in New Jersey, to which he was a significant contributor. The study, which is released in 1968, analyzes the roots of riots in Newark and other NJ cities, identifying racial, economic, and power imbalances.

In their own words
Leadership in the 1970s
President, Jewish Community Council of Essex County
President, Jewish Community Federation of Metropolitan NJ
President, Jewish Federation of Central NJ
President, UJF of Morris/Sussex
President, Jewish Community Foundation
1970s Image

A merger results in the creation of Jewish Federation of Central NJ, significant growth spurs the building of new Jewish day schools and social services agencies, and our community raises money to support Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

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Gathering Strength

In June, Jewish councils representing numerous communities within the Plainfield and Westfield areas merge with the Eastern Union County Jewish Council to create the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey. It will eventually merge with the United Jewish Federation of MetroWest to become today’s formidable Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. Pictured is an excerpt from the minutes of a meeting the January before.

Morris-Sussex Federation

To accommodate the expanding Jewish population farther west, the United Jewish Federation of Morris/Sussex is established in 1973. Led by its first president, Seymour Epstein, the organization is small compared to it’s neighbor in Essex County and has very little infrastructure or overhead. Most of the money raised goes to support Israel. It merges with the Jewish Community Federation of Metropolitan New Jersey in 1983, becoming the United Jewish Federation of MetroWest.

Pictured here is Epstein (right) accepting an award from his successor, Sanford Hollander (left), at the annual meeting chaired by Pearl Schlossman (center) in 1975.

Unparalleled Support for War Effort

The national Federation community rallies to support Israel following the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, raising $15 million. The equivalent in purchasing power today would be $103,273,980.

Financial Assistance to Jews in Need

Hebrew Free Loan Association is reorganized with proceeds from the sale of the Hebrew Sheltering Home in Newark. The current society is successor to one that was founded in Newark in 1870, closed in 1955, and then reopened in 1996 to serve the MetroWest community, Essex and Morris counties, and eventually Jews in need around the state.

A Full Jewish Life for ALL

JESPY House, an agency that enables adults with learning and developmental disabilities to lead independent lives in the community, opens. The 24-hour supervised residential program in South Orange starts with four residents and now has 35 people living in the residential facilities, as well as more than 100 out-clients living in apartments in South Orange.

Housing Our Seniors

Groundbreaking takes place for the Jewish Federation Plaza, which becomes one of the first facilities in northern New Jersey to offer independent senior living. Today it is one of four Jewish Community Housing Corporation (JCHC) sites, along with Village Apartments of Jewish Federation in South Orange, South Orange B’nai B’rith Federation House, and Lester Senior Living in Whippany.

Bringing Broadway Back — to West Orange

The original Y on High Street in Newark was the “Great White Way” of NJ, with scenes from the top shows re-created in the “Bits of Hits” theater program. This footage from 1979 tells of a revival of the program, including interviews and a Hanukkah production.

Leadership in the 1980s
President, Jewish Community Federation of Metropolitan NJ
President, UJF of MetroWest
President, UJF of Morris/Sussex
President, Jewish Federation of Central NJ
President, Jewish Community Foundation
1980s Image

While a merger here at home creates United Jewish Federation of MetroWest, much of our attention is focused on showing our support and raising more than $25 million to aid in the freeing and resettlement of the Jews of the Soviet Union. 

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A Yeshiva for Students with Special Needs

In the early 80s, three families who recognize the need for an Orthodox education for their sons with special needs start making phone calls. In 1982, a program is launched by Rabbi Dr. Wallace Greene who was the head of the Hebrew Youth Academy (now Kushner Academy) then in West Caldwell. There are five boys in that first class. One of the core principles of the program is to integrate the students into the rest of the school. Sinai Schools continues to thrive and expand over the years.

The Origins of MetroWest

In an effort to reduce duplication of social services, the Jewish Community Federation of Metropolitan New Jersey (Essex County) and the United Federation of Morris-Sussex merge on October 1, 1983 to form United Jewish Communities (UJC) of MetroWest NJ. This is the origin of the word MetroWest. 

Jewish Homes for Adults with Disabilities

The Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled (JSDD) begins in 1984 with the formation of the Commission on Individuals with Developmental Disabilities (a committee for United Jewish Federation of MetroWest). In 1989, the Commission purchases, renovates, and occupies its first group home in Millburn, NJ. Since then, an additional 14 homes are added, including three supervised apartments. In 1996, JSDD becomes an independent agency. Today, community-based, supervised, supportive living arrangements provide 24-hour assistance, with the capacity to serve 50 men and women in Essex, Morris, and Union Counties. Pictured here is an article about the group home in West Caldwell which opens in 1998.


Steps Toward Freedom for Soviet Jews

Jackie Levine (center) leads the quarter-million marchers, including busloads from our own community, who came to Washington, D.C. for the rally to free Jews endangered and trapped in the Soviet Union, for which she was the national organizer.

Global Neighbors, Federation and Israel

Legendary philanthropist and longtime Central NJ community leader Joseph Wilf is pictured (back, third from right) with workers and beneficiaries of a development in Kadima, Israel. Jewish Federation of Central NJ had a longtime commitment to the Project Renewal Initiative to improve the lives and outcomes of Israelis still struggling with generational economic and social challenges.

The Old Neighborhood

ABC NY and NJ Public Television witness history in a time of transition for Newark’s remaining Jewish community. Here is a brief report on Newark’s then-last synagogue, as well as a long portrait of those who stayed in Newark and those who spread out. Both consider issues of class mobility and race relations from past and present points of view.

Leadership in the 1990s
President, UJF of MetroWest
President, Jewish Federation of Central NJ
President, Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest
1990s Image

A building boom here in NJ includes new homes for MetroWest and Central Federations, while overseas we are part of a $1 billion JFNA campaign to support Operation Exodus, a major effort to help Russian and Ethiopian Jews make Aliyah. 

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Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey Chaplaincy program

This video, Bikur Holim – A Mitzvah Without Measure, highlights the important work of Jewish Federation of Central NJ’s chaplaincy program.

Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus Groundbreaking

Construction begins on the 37.5-acre campus in Whippany to house multiple Jewish communal organizations, named in honor of community leaders and donors Alex and Shirley Aidekman. (Pictured from left to right: Governor Jim Florio, Leonard Wilf, Senator Bill Bradley, and Jerry Waldor)

Major Campaign Supports Operation Exodus

Jewish Federation of MetroWest NJ raises nearly $20 million as part of a larger JFNA campaign to raise $1 billion over three years to support a major effort to help Russian and Ethiopian Jews make Aliyah as part of Operation Exodus in 1990.

MetroWest High School in Ra'anana Opens

MetroWest High School is founded in the MetroWest partner community of Ra’anana, exemplifying a commitment to education and pluralism in Israel. It becomes a model for the rest of the country.

Aidekman Campus Officially Opens

Inauguration ceremony takes place on Sunday, May 3. The new building houses the JCC of Greater Morris, the Frances and Herbert Brody Early Childhood Center, the offices of the United Jewish Federation of MetroWest, the Dr. M.W. Weinstein and Family Jewish Education Association of MetroWest, the Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest, the MetroWest Jewish News, the Waldor Memorial Library, the Jewish Historical Society of MetroWest NJ, the Harry Wilf Holocaust Memorial, and the MetroWest Conference Center. 

Archives Designed to House and Protect Community Artifacts

The Jewish Historical Society of MetroWest NJ is created to archive records of administrative, legal, fiscal, and historical value, including artifacts, books, oral histories, and manuscript collections. The mission of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater MetroWest NJ is to serve as the archival repository of the Jewish community of the Greater MetroWest region. The Society serves the Jewish and general communities as a research center, exhibit center, producer of public forums, and publisher of books and papers on topics of historical Jewish interest.

Inauguration of the William and Betty Lester Society

William z’’l and Betty z’’l Lester established the Lester Society to recognize the generosity of those who have endowed their support of the UJA Annual Campaign of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ through an endowment commitment of $100,000 or more. William Lester died in 2005, leaving Federation its first multi-million-dollar endowment to support the UJA Campaign in perpetuity. The Lester Society recognizes current endowment donors and remembers the generosity of endowment donors who have passed away.

Inauguration of Lion of Judah Endowment in MetroWest

A Lion of Judah Endowment (LOJE) gift represents the creation of a permanent fund of at least $100,000 guaranteeing that a woman’s financial commitment of at least $5,000 will continue to be made to the UJA Annual Campaign in perpetuity. To date, Greater MetroWest has more than 250 Lion of Judah Endowments and is among the top five communities nationally. Dr. Ruth Legow z”l (above, right) was a pioneering leader in recruiting dozens of women to endow their campaign gifts.

In Their Own Words

Jewish Historical Society Oral History with Edith Solitan interviewing Mrs. Frieda G., originally from Hungary

JCC Central

This campus, located on the grounds of the JCC in Scotch Plains, will serve as the central address for the Jewish community which stretches from Elizabeth to Basking Ridge, encompassing Union and northern Somerset Counties. Pictured here breaking ground on May 14 are Central community leaders (left to right) Toby Goldberger, Joseph Wilf, Gerald Cantor, Sandra Friedland, Joan Schiffer Levinson, Fran Brody, Richard Corman, and Stanley Stone.


Help for Holocaust Survivors

Jewish Family Service of Central NJ receives a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims to assist Holocaust survivors applying for social services.

Ever Evolving Jewish Press

The final edition of The Jewish Horizon of Union and Somerset counties is printed on June 26, 1997. The paper was founded and incorporated in August 1981 by Jewish Federation of Central NJ lay leaders to replace The Jewish Community News, which was causing a financial hardship on Federation resources. MetroWest Jewish News acquires The Jewish Horizon and the publication is renamed New Jersey Jewish News (NJJN), with a focus on statewide Jewish issues.

UJA Campaign Leadership Mission to Ukraine

MetroWest Federation lay leaders and professionals travel to Ukraine and meet with Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, Deputy Israeli Ambassador to the Ukraine.

Rachel Coalition Established

Prompted by phone calls from local Jewish victims of domestic violence, the Jewish Family Service of MetroWest works with several agencies to raise funds to create a safe house for those within the community in need of shelter. With the seed money from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey and fundraising campaigns coordinated by the Women’s Department of the United Jewish Federation of MetroWest, the Rachel Coalition is established.

Lester Senior Housing Groundbreaking

These are the shovels used at the dedication ceremonies for two new senior living centers run by Jewish Community Housing Corporation (JCHC), Federation Plaza in West Orange (1978) and Lester Housing in Whippany (1997). These two facilities bring the total number of senior housing sites to five.

Wilf Campus Dedication

On May 10, leaders in the Central NJ community gather to thank and celebrate all the donors who made the Wilf Campus facility possible.

New Department Lures Volunteers

United Jewish Federation of MetroWest establishes a new department of volunteer and leadership development to attract newcomers through volunteer opportunities and to help people already involved reach their potential. The Center for Volunteerism now provides year-round service opportunities for volunteers of all ages and abilities. 

Leadership in the 2000s
President, UJF of MetroWest
President, UJC of MetroWest
President, Jewish Federation of Central NJ
President, Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest
2000s Image

In this turbulent decade marked by the the 9/11 attacks and the War on Terror, our Jewish community focuses on supporting families of 9/11 victims and continues to raise funds to support important initiatives in Israel 

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Lifetime Commitment

“I ask you to pay homage to the living.” An interview with Elizabeth, NJ’s Mathilda Brailove chronicles her advocacy for the Jews, from the rise of Hitler to the founding of Israel and decades beyond. Toward the end of a tirelessly committed life, she expresses the Jews’ unique role as demanders of justice and the convictions that inspired her to carry on this mission.

A Special Place for Young People with Special Needs

The Friendship Circle opens in Livingston, offering activities and programs for children and teens with special needs and connecting teen volunteers with children with special needs and their families to provide support, respite, and friendships.

In 2016, The Friendship Circle breaks ground on a new 53,000 square foot fully inclusive facility, LifeTown, which offers a myriad of opportunities for recreation, education, and therapeutic play aimed at providing a comprehensive slate of programming for individuals with special abilities and their families.

Witnessing 9/11 with Partners in Israel

As two planes hit the Twin Towers on 9/11, a group of 60 GMW community leaders, including Senator Frank Lautenberg, are on a bus headed to our partner community of Ofakim as part of a solidarity mission during the Intifada. Together they watch on a TV at the Israel Tennis Center, in shock, as the buildings collapse. They aren’t able to leave the country as originally scheduled as all international flights are cancelled. The missions director persuades El Al to honor their United Airlines tickets and the group makes their way to Ben Gurion Airport where they wait 20 hours before boarding a flight that is the first to land at Kennedy Airport after the attack.

In the aftermath, our community stepped up. Our social services agencies manned drop-in centers at local Jewish community centers and addressed the challenges caused by the sluggish economy and post-Sept. 11 dislocation. Rabbi Ronald Kaplan of Temple Beth Am in Parsippany was the first rabbi to begin serving as American Red Cross chaplain in a program to escort families of terrorist victims to Ground Zero. And the United Jewish Federation of MetroWest held an emergency campaign that assisted victims and families of the Sept. 11 attacks — all $490,000 raised went to aid those in need.

Serving Survivors

Café Europa is founded as a gathering spot where those who survived the Holocaust can meet or reunite, and participate in social programs, enjoy entertainment, and more. The service is one of many programs available to Holocaust survivors through Federation beneficiary agencies JFS of MetroWest and JFS of Central NJ. This video was produced by JFS MetroWest.


Reflecting on the war, a furniture business, and more

In 2002, longtime community member Sidney Schwarz reminisces about life in Newark as part of JHS’s Oral History Program. He recounts studying at University of Newark (now Rutgers), flying reconnaissance in WWII, marrying his wife Ethel during a 27-inch snowstorm, starting a furniture business in an old grocery store, and their survival of the 1967 riots and second act in MetroWest; keeping both history and a sense of humor alive. 

In Their Own Words
Rishonim 1!

Keren Dicastro and Yotam Guetta arrive at the end of the summer from our partner community of Rishon LeZion as our first cohort of rishonim! The Jewish Agency for Israel’s ShinShinim program was designed as a “year of service” that offers Israeli high school graduates an opportunity to delay mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces and serve Diaspora communities for up to 10 months. The program allows communities to meet young Israeli ambassadors who perform meaningful service prior to entering the army. We have had a Greater MetroWest cohort every year since!

JSDD opens alternative learning facility

In October 2004, the Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled (JSDD) opens the doors of the WAE (Wellness, Arts & Enrichment) Center, an alternative learning program which provides opportunities for people with developmental and acquired disabilities to develop skills and cultivate self-esteem while tapping unknown talents and creating new possibilities for artistic pursuits, wellness endeavors, and enrichment activities. Opportunities at the Center are all developed embracing the belief that learning, creativity, and spirituality are a lifelong journey which is different and unique for everyone. The WAE Center currently serves approximately 150 people per year.

Central NJ Federation Partners With Our Ethiopian Mishpacha

Bridging several worlds of Jewish life, members of a leadership mission by the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey pose with Ethiopian children and youth participating in Federation-funded arts programs at a center in Arad, Israel.

Leadership in the 2010s
President, UJC of MetroWest
President, Jewish Federation of Central NJ
President, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ
President, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ
2010s Image

In 2012, MetroWest and Central NJ merge to form Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, becoming one of the largest organizations in the North American Federation system, and in the same year, volunteers from across our community rally to support and help rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

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Many Hands Heal

Haiti’s devastating earthquake reverberates in NJ’s large Haitian community, many of whom work in Jewish community facilities. Counseling services are made available at a number of Jewish organization, including Federation of Central NJ and the National Association of Jewish Chaplains, headed by MetroWest’s Joint Chaplaincy director, Cecile Asekoff.

One Big, Growing Family

Newark Mayor Cory Booker observes the 150th year of Jewish Family Service of MetroWest, tracing the agency from its roots as the Hebrew Benevolent Orphan Society through its present as a premier provider of professional help for the health and wellbeing of a wide community.

The Circle Widens

The United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ merges with Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey to create Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ as we know it today.

In Their Own Words: Federation CEO Max Kleinman
A Massive Volunteer Effort

When Super Storm Sandy strikes our area in the fall of 2012, it leaves a path of destruction that is most devastating along the New Jersey shoreline. In the aftermath, our Federations and partner agencies “adopt” the town of Union Beach to support their restoration efforts. We raise funds, gather construction and other supplies, and take multiple bus trips to the town to help the hard-working residents to clean up and rebuild. 

Uniting Our Israel Endeavors

On November 14, the newly formed Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ inaugurates its Israel Center, created to provide an umbrella for all the Israel endeavors and to enhance the connection between the committees and departments that relate to Israel. The center includes the Israel and Overseas Committee, the Legow Family Israel aProgram Center, the Religious Pluralism Committee, the Partnership2Gether Committees, the Overseas Committee, the Keren Ness Fund, and the Greater MetroWest Israel Office.

Setting a World Record!

The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life sponsors a Great Shofar Blowout on September 21 at the Alex Aidekman Jewish Community Campus, attracted more than 1,000 people all blasting their shofars in unison and setting a Guiness World Record.


Peace Ya Man

Staff Sergeant Matan Gotlib z”l is tragically killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge on July 30, 2014. The entire Greater MetroWest community, in Israel and here in New Jersey, mourns his loss.

Matan, the son of Shmulik and Ruchama, was a born leader. Admired by many, he was active in local community projects and his Tzofim Youth Group, helping disadvantaged children. He had been a Diller Teen Fellow in 2009. And his ties to our community are still very much alive.

Showing Our Solidarity for Israel

An impassioned crowd of 800+ members of the Greater MetroWest Jewish community join together as one for the Israel Solidarity Rally held the morning of Monday, July 21 at the Aidekman Jewish Community Campus in Whippany. In the standing room-only conference center, Senator Robert Menendez, Congressman Leonard Lance, NJ Senator Tom Kean Jr., Israel Consul General Ido Aharoni,  and Rev. Terry Richardson speak with tremendous fervor about Israel’s right to defend itself and live in peace and security. Their remarks were often drowned out by applause.

Standing in Harm’s Way

The resettlement of Yemeni Jews is considered complete as 19 Jews from Yemen are rescued and brought to live in Israel, the culmination of a long-term mission coordinated covertly by our Federation partner, the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Greater MetroWest Hillel

Jewish Federation announces the creation and launch of the Greater MetroWest Multi-Campus Hillel in partnership with Rutgers Hillel. The mission of GMW Hillel is to provide outreach and engagement to the Jewish student populations at Montclair State University, Kean University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rutgers-Newark, and NJIT-Newark. Together these campuses host approximately 2,000 Jewish students.

A large part of their role is to work with campus professionals, Jewish communal and higher education leaders, anti-hate organizations, and of course students to address antisemitic activity through a variety of initiatives and programs.

PJ Milestone

Federation presents the 300,000th local PJ Library book to 6-year-old Nathaniel Melville of Scotch Plains in a ceremonious event. PJ Library, an initiative of our Federation in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, has been delivering free Jewish children’s books and music CDs to Greater MetroWest families for almost ten years. The ceremonial 300,000th book is presented by Maxine Murnick, a major supporter of the Greater MetroWest PJ Library program and a member of the Federation Board of Trustees; Federation’s Vice President of Jewish Learning and Life Jody Hurwitz Caplan; and Federation professionals.

Cycling Event Raises Money for Camp

On April 29, Federation’s One Happy Camper hosts its first-ever Tour de Summer Camps NJ on the grounds of the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown. 500+ community members come together to cycle, volunteer, and participate in activities, and together raise more than $900,000 to support scholarships and incentive grants to send local children and teens to Jewish overnight camps. Among the riders were 15 cyclists from our Negev partner communities in Israel. Pictured are co-chairs co-chairs Jon Ulanet, Eric Sellinger, Susan Ratner z”l, and Gary DeBode.

The Children Shall Lead

Teens who survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, join with Greater MetroWest at a rally we host for common sense gun legislation, attended by more than 2,000 community members. Shortly after, we provide buses to attend the March for Our Lives in Newark, with lunch and discussion sessions afterward, as well as a lobbying trip to bring our CRC Teen Task Force to Trenton to lobby for gun legislation at the state level.

Most Heinous Act of Antisemitism

On October 27, 11 people were killed and six were wounded as a gunman opened fire during Shabbat morning services at Tree of Life – Or L’Simcha Congregation in The Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh. It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history. This tragic incident triggered a massive increase in security preparedness in Jewish institutions.

Leadership in the 2020s
President, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ
President, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ
2020s Image

To usher in our 11th decade, Federation launches an in-depth community study and an unprecedented campaign to serve the community’s significant needs throughout a global pandemic, an alarming rise in hate and antisemitism, and uncertain times in Israel, Eastern Europe, and around the world. 

View Leadership
Greater MetroWest Rallies for COVID Relief

The 2020s are thus far defined by mutual concern and care for every life in our community.

The COVID-19 crisis mobilizes hundreds of volunteers to provide food, medical protective equipment, and supplies to tens of thousands of people in Greater MetroWest and our partner communities in Israel. We also persuaded the state to reserve doses of the vaccine for Holocaust survivors in our community.

In-depth Community Study

It took longer than expected because of the COVID pandemic, but in 2021 Federation and our partners at Brandeis University released the 2020 Greater MetroWest Jewish Community Study which provides a snapshot of a strong and vibrant Jewish community that continues to evolve.

The data yielded by the study will serve as a roadmap for priorities as we enter our next century. 

Responding to Crisis

Our community immediately answers the call to aid survivors of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Raising more than $3.5 million for our international partner agencies on the ground — JDC and JAFI — our Federation and Jewish Community Foundation help both Jews and non-Jews escape to neighboring countries or get urgently needed supplies if they choose to stay.

In March, Federation President David Saginaw (left) and CEO Dov Ben-Shimon (right) join a Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and JFNA President Mark Wilf (center) on a trip to Poland where it borders Ukraine to see how our partners are helping the throngs of refugees crossing the border.

Greater MetroWest Centennial Mission to Israel

Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ’s Centennial Mission to Israel brings a once-in-a-century experience to 500 community members representing all aspects of our diverse GMW.


Our Community Comes Together in Grief and Support for Israel

On October 7, Israeli communities were attacked by Hamas terrorists. We are all horrified as the news reaches us  on that Shabbat day. Eventually we learn that more than 1,200 Israelis were murdered, thousands are injured, and hundreds are being held hostage in Gaza. Israel is at war. Our community, along with Jewish organizations across the country and around the world, gather to show our solidarity with Israel and raise millions of dollars to help meet the mounting and evolving needs.

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