“It’s sort of like coming home.”
So said Jason Shames, who has just been named executive vice president and chief executive officer of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey.
Shames has been serving as chief development officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington since 2008, where he was responsible for overseeing all philanthropic efforts of the 270,000 person Jewish community.
Before that, he spent seven years at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.
Originally, though, he grew up in The Bronx and attended high school in Ramapo in Rockland County, N.Y.
“Geographically, its great to be back home,” he said. “But if I didn’t find the job so attractive, I wouldn’t be here.”
Northern New Jersey, said Shames, “has the necessary leadership and demographics and all the ingredients for a great, vibrant Jewish community. I want to help it grow in the way it has been and move it forward.”
In announcing his appointment, federation President Alan Scharfstein praised Shames for his “combination of experience, youth, passion, and vision.
“He has an extraordinary track record of attracting and involving stakeholders in federation activities, and we believe that his leadership will help us in our initiatives to attract and involve younger stakeholders,” said Scharfstein.
When asked what motivates him, Shames speaks with enthusiasm.
“When you see people who need something from a Jewish organization and you’re there to help, it’s an amazing feeling. The fact that you can go to the former Soviet Union and see a Holocaust survivor being taken care of – that’s the greatest part of the job,” he said.