Murnick family gives $4 million to local PJ Library
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Murnick family gives $4 million to local PJ Library

New endowment is largest gift in North America

Maxine Murnick with Nate Melville, son of Lisa and Philip Melville of Scotch Plains, who was the 300,000th recipient of a Greater MetroWest PJ Library book in 2017.
Maxine Murnick with Nate Melville, son of Lisa and Philip Melville of Scotch Plains, who was the 300,000th recipient of a Greater MetroWest PJ Library book in 2017.

Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ has received the largest PJ Library Endowment gift in North America, ensuring that thousands of children will continue to receive Jewish books and content in the mail each month for generations.

Maxine Murnick of Short Hills and her family recently made a $4 million gift to create the Theodore R. z”l and Maxine B. Murnick PJ Library Endowment of the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) of Greater MetroWest NJ, the federation’s planned giving and endowment arm. This is the largest endowment gift ever made for PJ Library, according to The Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which founded and manages the program.

“We are deeply honored to have the Murnick family connected with our PJ Library Program,” said Scott Krieger, president of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. “This is a historic gift, and a beautiful and meaningful tribute to Ted’s memory and to a family that has shown leadership, dedication, and love of community across generations.”

PJ Library books are mailed for free each month to close to 3,000 children in Greater MetroWest, which spans Essex, Morris, Union, Sussex, and parts of Somerset counties. Since the program was founded locally in 2008, PJ Library has reached more than 11,000 children across the community, from infants through students in primary grades.

“What could be better for the future of the Jewish community worldwide than doing something for our Jewish children?” said Murnick, who expressed concern about demographic studies showing a decline in affiliation in the Jewish community.

After her husband Ted’s death in 2010, her family wanted to honor his memory.

“When I became aware of the need for funding PJ Library in our community, it just seemed like the perfect fit,” she said. “It recognized Ted’s love of children and his continued support of our Jewish community.”

In addition to the books, PJ Library also hosts programs for young children and their families. Over the past five years, close to 3,000 families have attended more than 170 PJ Library programs — from “PJ in the Park” to “Jewish Family Fun” and more — in synagogues, schools, camps, JCCs, and public spaces.

The Murnick family has a decades-long history of involvement and leadership in the Greater MetroWest community. Maxine was recently named a vice chair of targeted giving for a campaign in honor of the federation’s centennial in 2023.

In addition, she is a past UJA campaign and Women’s Philanthropy campaign chair and president; she serves as chair of the federation’s United Allocations Council, is a federation executive board member, and a trustee of the JCF. Ted was a past president of Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange and board member of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation. Their three children, Jay, Lee, and Amy, have continued the family’s tradition of community leadership.

“This is a beautiful and very important pace-setting leadership gift for our upcoming campaign,” said Dov Ben-Shimon, executive vice president and CEO.

For information about the Greater MetroWest PJ Library program contact Andrea Bergman at abergman@jfedgmw.org or 973-929-3128.

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