New federation prez aims to ‘educate our donors’

New federation prez aims to ‘educate our donors’

Arlene Frumkin, third from left, with other Middlesex federation leaders on a 2008 United Jewish Communities mission to Poland and Israel. Photo courtesy Linda Block
Arlene Frumkin, third from left, with other Middlesex federation leaders on a 2008 United Jewish Communities mission to Poland and Israel. Photo courtesy Linda Block

Arlene Frumkin was first introduced to the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County about 12 years ago when she took a part-time job working for its community relations council.

That introduction spurred an involvement in which she transitioned from employee to volunteer and now federation president, succeeding Lee Livingston.

In the interim, Frumkin has served on federation committees, cochaired its Women’s Philanthropy Main Event, was Women’s Division campaign chair, and most recently served concurrently as Women’s Philanthropy president and federation co-campaign chair.

“In light of our strategic plan and recent marketing survey, I would like to see the Jewish federation be the kind of organization our donors want us to be and even the kind of organization our non-donors want us to be,” said the Kendall Park resident. “I think what people want to see is the Jewish Federation of Middlesex County working together with all the other Jewish organizations, agencies, and synagogues to make us a cohesive and inclusive Jewish community.”

Part of that strategy is to increase donors’ awareness of what their money is being earmarked for, whether it is helping resettle immigrants in Israel, feeding poor and hungry elderly in the former Soviet Union, or providing aid to local day schools, agencies, synagogues, and programs.

“We need to educate our donors about where their money goes,” said Frumkin. “We need more collaboration and coordination with other Jewish agencies. We need others to see our Jewish community as one that is a nice place for new families to come and live. Fortunately, this federation and community are doing pretty well and are pretty healthy, but it is important for us to listen to what our donors are saying in order for us to survive as a thriving organization.”

Along those lines Frumkin said she is “open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.”

One of those innovations is the federation’s Marion and Norman Tanzman Fellows program, which aims to cultivate the leadership potential of candidates between the ages of 40 and 55 already active in synagogues and other local Jewish institutions. The federation’s senior taskforce is also looking at ways to better serve its growing active adult population.

Federation executive director Gerrie Bamira said, “I look forward to working with Arlene to advance the mission of the federation. Her vision and passion for the worldwide Jewish community and her ability to engage and embrace members of our community will add to her success — which will be a win-win for all.”

Frumkin is a lifelong Middlesex County resident who grew up in Highland Park and attended Douglass College. She moved with her husband, Mitch, to South Brunswick after they got married. The couple belongs to Congregation B’nai Tikvah and owns a North Brunswick engineering company, Kipcon, Inc. They have three children, Lauren, Seth, and Adam.

She has served on committees at her synagogue, as president of the Middlesex County section of National Council of Jewish Women, and on NCJW’s national board.

And while Middlesex’s campaign is faring better than are many other federations’, it has still been hit hard by the recession. That troubles Frumkin.

“It is our responsibility to help other Jews,” she said. “We need to be sure we are able to do that.”

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