If you are Jewish, living in northern New Jersey, and between the ages of 22 and 30, you are invited.
A new young leadership group is being organized by the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey (JFNNJ).
The group does not yet have a name. Choosing one is on the agenda of its first meeting, scheduled for April 23 at the federation’s offices in Paramus, as is drawing up a calendar of activities.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to be in on the ground floor,” says Joshua Prell, a 25-year-old financial adviser for Wells Fargo, inviting his peers to attend.
Prell and other organizers of the group do have an idea of what the group will offer. Opportunities to network, make new friends, “and a chance to give back with community service,” he says.
Prell lives in Maywood. He grew up in Wykoff, in a family that took Jewish communal involvement seriously.
“It’s really been instilled in me through them that it’s something important and something I have to continue in my life,” he says, recalling being 10 years old and helping out at the federation’s Super Sunday telethon, “bringing foods to the people making the calls and waiting until I could be old enough to make the calls.”
Prell is one of several young people recruited by the federation to form the core of the new young leadership group. It is a mixture of people, like Prell, whose families are involved in JFNNJ, as well as some people known to Kimberly Schwartzman, a 22-year-old federation staffer (originally from West Orange) hired by JFNNJ to promote outreach to the younger generation.
“The idea came from our new CEO, Jason Shames,” says Schwartzman, who has been meeting individually with the core group.
While there is a core group of people who have signed on and will be at the meeting, “anyone who wants to walk in the door can,” says Prell. “We’ll be forming the group, down to the name and the mission.”
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” says Schwartzman. “We’re trying to make it less of a meeting and more like a gathering where people are going to talk and brainstorm and get to know each other. There’s going to be food. It’s going to be great.”
Schwartzman says her age group brings important assets to the community.
“We’re really innovative. This is what the federation needs for the future, to keep this strong Jewish community that we have,” she says.
“Every Jewish organization has to build to the future and this one of the ways that we’re doing it,” says Miriam Allenson, the federation’s director of marketing services. “Who knows what these guys are going to come up with?”