In partnership with the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the Jewish Community Center of Central New Jersey has been given a $2 million endowment from the family of Isaac and Helaine Heller z”l to provide ongoing financial assistance to JCC members in need. In recognition of the gift, the JCC has named its scholarship program in memory of Isaac and Helaine Heller.
The Isaac and Helaine Heller Financial Assistance Endowment, the first of its kind for the JCC, enables the JCC to expand its financial assistance program and deepen and broaden its impact for individuals and families in need.
“The doors at the JCC of Central NJ are always open to anyone who wants to participate in life-enriching programs and meaningful Jewish experiences,” Mike Goldstein, the JCC’s executive director, said. “The Isaac and Helaine Heller JCC Financial Assistance Program will ensure that we can deepen our commitment to helping all to participate, and welcome even more members of our community to the JCC, regardless of ability to pay.”
“Securing this major gift was possible through the strong partnership our JCC has with Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and the commitment we, as an agency, have to philanthropy,” the JCC’s board president, Stacie Friedman, said. “The JCC is grateful to the daughters of Isaac and Helaine Heller for this beautiful gift that will honor their parents’ memories today and for many years to come.”
The Heller Endowment will support financial assistance to 75 to 100 individuals and families each year, helping them with membership dues, preschool, kindergarten, afterschool, camp, and other JCC programs.
“Our parents cared a lot about ensuring that families could access quality Jewish programs, regardless of ability to pay,” Laurie Kaufman of Marlboro, one of the Hellers’ daughters, said. “The JCC Central is really an incredible organization that offers so many wonderful programs, and it’s located right in our hometown where our parents lived for decades and helped build the Jewish community. This felt like a natural fit to all of us to honor our parents in this way and strengthen this agency and this community into the future.” Ms. Kaufman and her sisters, Audrey Romberg, Hollie Heller, and Hillary Granfield, made the gift possible.
The gift supports the historic Centennial Campaign of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the largest fundraising initiative in the community’s history, which honors the federation’s 100th anniversary, upcoming in 2023. The JCF is the federation’s planned giving and endowment arm.
Ike and Helaine Heller were longtime Scotch Plains residents and generous supporters of the former Jewish Federation of Central NJ, which merged with MetroWest in 2012 to become Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest. Mr. Heller died in 2015, and Ms. Heller died in 2020.
Ike Heller, who went to a one-room schoolhouse during the Depression and worked as a radio technician in the U.S. Navy, became an entrepreneurial success as co-founder of Remco Industries. The company became one of the largest U.S. toy manufacturers. He later founded the Edison-based Heller Industrial Parks, which now has more than 16 million square feet of commercial real estate throughout the nation.
Together, Ike and Helaine Heller supported scholarships to broaden participation for young people in Jewish educational programs. The Union of Reform Judaism’s high school in Israel is named Heller High, in recognition of a major endowment supporting scholarships for students to attend that program each year.
For information email the JCC’s executive director, Mike Goldstein, firstname.lastname@example.org, call him at (908) 889-8800, ext. 218, or go to jccnj.org/financialassistance.