There is one less star in the firmament of Jewish federations.
The Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey, headquartered in Scotch Plains, will be merging with the neighboring United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ (UJC), effective July 1.
The merger was approved by the Central federation on Monday night, having been approved last month by the MetroWest federation, based in Whippany.
The merged organization will be known as the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
“We look forward to an exciting and stronger future together,” said UJC President Lori Klinghoffer, who will lead the new entity.
The federation will continue operating the Scotch Plains facility as a regional office, but the MetroWest federation is clearly the larger partner. It had encompassed Essex, Morris, and Sussex counties, as well as the northern part of Union County. The merger adds the rest of Union County and some towns in Somerset County.
In the fiscal year closing June 20, the MetroWest federation expects to raise nearly $19.5 million, and the Scotch Plains federation over $4 million.
In terms of population, MetroWest estimates its Jewish community at about 91,000, and that of the Central federation at about 35,000.
With a combined campaign of $25 million, the merged federation now ranks as the 10th largest in North America, after Baltimore and ahead of Miami. For comparison, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, headquartered in Paramus, has an annual campaign of $9 million and ranks 21st.
This is the latest in a series of federation mergers in New Jersey.
Back in 1985, there were 15 Jewish federations in the state. Today, there are 11. Some, such as the Jewish Federation of Greater Clifton-Passaic, are greatly diminished; the Clifton federation unsuccessfully sought to merge with the MetroWest federation.
The two merged federations “have a history of collaboration in many areas for the past several years,” said Shelley Labiner, chief marketing officer at the MetroWest federation.
Collaborations have included a shared Jewish Community Relations Council and joint chaplaincy services. MetroWest’s New Jersey Jewish News has been publishing an edition for the Central federation for many years.
With the merger, “we will have more influence in the federal and state level of government and at the national table of federations. We will have the largest delegation of Israel emissaries in the U.S.,” she said.
One beneficiary of the merger will be the Jewish Education Center (JEC) yeshivah day school in Elizabeth.
“Our planned giving and endowment arm has been a very instrumental player in helping our three day schools in MetroWest build an endowment campaign to help create affordable and excellent Jewish education. We will work with JEC to do similar things.”