They helped make the federation what it is today and now UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey is honoring the couple that made education a priority.
UJA-NNJ’s Jewish Educational Services will honor its ‘5th anniversary and its founders, Arthur and Joyce Joseph, with a celebratory dinner at the Jewish Center of Teaneck on Sunday, Nov. 18. The couple, who were injured in an automobile accident nearly two years ago, are expected to attend.
"They are primarily the moving force behind JES being founded ‘5 years ago," said Wallace Greene, director of JES. Arthur Joseph "had always been pushing the Jewish educational agenda from day one."
When the Josephs moved to Teaneck in 1954, none of the current Jewish infrastructure existed. The couple helped create the federation in the ’80s, and Arthur Joseph served as its second president. While there are more than a dozen day schools in the northern New Jersey now, in 198′ the area had only four day schools and several congregational schools, all of which needed support.
"There was no way for teachers in New Jersey to be given the type of training and skills they needed to become effective in what they do," Greene said. "That’s why they started JES."
The organization started with one part-time director. The second director had a small staff, and Greene has a staff of 1′, which he said is still not enough.
"A major part of this community’s history is tied up with both of them," Greene said.
In addition to Arthur Joseph’s term as the second president of JES, Joyce Joseph had been involved in Hadassah, UJA-NNJ’s women’s division, and the Lion of Judah women’s philanthropy program.
"In her own right she was very, very active," Greene said. "She was a very active person and supported Arthur in everything that he did."
The Josephs continued to be movers in the community until their accident. They had been on their way to Potomac, Md., to visit their daughter for Pesach when the car in front of them began backing up at an excessive speed and slammed into the Josephs’ car. Joyce Joseph was taken to a hospital but Arthur walked away and conducted the seder that night. The next morning, however, he slipped into a coma and remained comatose for four months.
Now Joyce Joseph lives in Potomac and her husband is in a rehabilitation facility nearby. They are expected to make the trip to Teaneck next week, though, and attend services at the Jewish Center, as Arthur had done every day before the accident.
"This is our last hurrah for the community to express their gratitude to them," Greene said. "Education has been their major thrust."
JES has raised about $150,000 from advertising in the dinner’s journal. The money will go toward setting up an endowment fund for professional development in the Josephs’ names. Greene credited the Josephs’ personalities for getting the community to step up its contributions.
"The response from the community has really been wonderful," Greene said. "That will be their lasting legacy: JES and the endowment fund."