Organizers of this year’s Main Event have great expectations. They anticipate that the annual gathering of Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County — which drew about 170 guests last year — will draw double the usual number of attendees and will make a colossal impact on the community.
The Main Event will be held Thursday evening, May 3, at Congregation Magen David in West Deal.
It’s not just the keynote speaker — Jill Zarin, star of the reality TV show The Real Housewives of New York City — who is creating a buzz. Or the Lifetime Achievement Award that will be presented to Ruth Hyman. What is mainly contributing to the anticipation is the power of collaboration and community; this year, 17 women nominated by a diverse cross-section of Monmouth County synagogues will be honored for their activism.
The Main Event reflects federation’s shift toward engaging more segments of the community and helping foster multifaceted connections. “Although we will be making a pitch for community support, there is no minimum gift to participate in the Main Event this year,” said federation executive director Keith Krivitzky. “We wanted to reach and engage more women and to remove any entry barriers.”
Women’s Philanthropy president Sheryl Grutman said the event will meet multiple goals. “Women play a leading role in the home, the workplace, and the broader community, and we believe it’s important to recognize the contributions of women volunteers from all walks of life, throughout our community.
“This is also a great way to highlight the important role that local synagogues play and the central role of our Jewish federation,” Grutman said.
Among the women nominated by their respective synagogues are a cantor and a Holocaust survivor. “All the different branches of Judaism will be united at the Main Event, with the common link of exemplary Jewish women who make their mark in the community,” said event chair Dawn Barofsky of Ocean Township. “I had the great pleasure of calling each nominee to tell them they would be honored.”
It’s expected that the younger generation will also be well represented at the Main Event. Barofsky’s daughters Alana, 14, and Julia, 12, and a tableful of their friends from B’nai B’rith Youth Organization will be there. “It’s a pleasure to see my daughters and their friends become involved with federation, since they will be among the next generation of Monmouth County Jewish women,” Barofsky said. “My eight-year-old Emma also can’t wait to get involved when she is older.”
The Main Event will feature a presentation by Zarin and her sister Lisa Wexler, host of The Lisa Wexler Show, a daily radio talk show. The sisters will discuss their book, Secrets of a Jewish Mother, which they cowrote with their mother, Gloria Kamen.