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entries tagged with: Angelica Berrie


JCC dedicates Berrie Complex

Angelica Berrie cuts the ribbon to the new complex as, from left, Norman Seiden, Stephen Seiden, treasurer of the Russell Berrie Foundation, Pearl Seiden, and Robin Miller look on.
At Sunday’s dedication are, from left, Avi A. Lewinson, JCC executive director; Edward A. Grossmann of the board of trustees; Robin Miller, JCC president; Angelica Berrie; Pearl Seiden, chair of the JCC capital campaign; and Norman Seiden of the board of trustees. Courtesy Kaplen JCC on the Palisades

The dedication Sunday of the Russ Berrie Family Health & Recreation Complex at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly marked a major milestone in JCC history.

In January 2007, the JCC launched a Gift of Community Capital and Endowment Campaign to support renovations and program enhancements. The Berrie Foundation gave the campaign a $2 million challenge grant, and the JCC has named its new fitness center in recognition of the Berrie family. The modern two-story facility features new exercise rooms, a spinning room, family changing suites with private facilities, new lockers, and an expansion of the JCC’s original fitness space to double its previous size, where members can take as many as 60 free group exercise classes each week.

The complex also houses the newly renovated Seiden Wellness Center, featuring adult-only locker suites with a wide range of spa amenities, including private nutritional and fitness consultations, massage, facials, reflexology, stress reduction workshops, private Pilates sessions, sports-specific training, and more.

“It is our honor and privilege to see this state-of-the-art facility named for the Berrie family,” said Pearl Seiden, the campaign chair. “It is particularly fitting that the Berrie trustees, in their infinite wisdom, chose to carry on Russ’s legacy here at the JCC…. Russ was an ardent supporter, board member, and benefactor for the JCC throughout his lifetime and he continued to give as our agency grew.”

In recognition of the center’s naming, Angelica Berrie, Russ Berrie’s widow, said, “I feel today’s message should be about the importance of building our community with the same fervor and spirit that drives us to fly off to New Orleans and Haiti, to bring the same urgency and resources that we contribute to other communities in need to our own federation, our JCCs and Ys, our Jewish Home, our JFS, and our local organizations and institutions that have equally compelling needs. We are strengthened by our sense of connection to our community and our sacred value of tikkun olam (repairing the world) begins with repairing the world right here, where we live. We can be a light unto the world, but let’s not forget our community.”

The complex is the first completed part of the JCC renovations. Still to come are a new front entrance, atrium, and lobby; a centralized, totally renovated Rubin Early Childhood Wing, which will feature many new classrooms, a child-friendly teaching kitchen and a pre-school library; a new Youth Center, including a new teen lounge; and a host of other projects.

“Our goal is to help people achieve healthier lifestyles and we are very pleased about our increased ability to meet the health and wellness needs of our community,” said Avi A. Lewinson, the JCC’s executive director.

“We are so thankful to our community for the support of our campaign, and to the Berrie family in particular, for enabling us to build such an unparalleled fitness facility,” added Robin Miller, the JCC president. “Membership is booming, our facilities are packed with hundreds of new members, and the energy and excitement about belonging to the JCC can be felt by everyone who enters our doors. This is very exciting and very encouraging. Our goal has been to build a stronger Jewish community and we are succeeding.”


JFN’s Charendoff looks to the future

Let no one say that Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, does not practice what he preaches. Nine years after taking the helm of the Jewish Funders Network, and just days after calling for term limits for Jewish communal leaders, Charendoff announced he would step down later this year.

“This is an issue I feel strongly about in the Jewish community,” he told The Jewish Standard earlier this week. “I feel there should be far more movement among CEOs, and organizations should have their own organic lives that are not tied to a particular CEO. We accomplished an enormous amount in nine years. It’s someone else’s turn to experiment in new directions and I think the organization deserves that. I think all organizations deserve that.”

Just as the president of the United States is limited to two four-year terms, Charendoff, an Englewood resident, would like to see a timeline imposed on Jewish communal leaders to accomplish their goals.

Shortly after publicly calling for term limits for Jewish communal leaders, Jewish Funders Network president Mark Charendoff announced he will step down from the organization in December after a nine-year stint. Courtesy Jewish Funders Network

“I don’t think enough Jewish organizations feel an urgency to achieve,” he said. “They feel an urgency to achieve their budgets, to show a certain amount of money coming in. If we have an expectation that the president of the United States can turn around the country in no more than eight years, it’s hubris to believe we can’t (also) hold ourselves to those standards.”

Executives can become burned out or lose touch with their changing constituencies, which is why he advocates bringing new blood into an organization after so many years, Charendoff said.

“We should all ask ourselves whether we continue to be the best person for the job, and whether the job continues to be the best for us,” he said.

He was quick to dismiss praise for the work he has done at JFN, instead offering praise to his colleagues.

“I was the orchestra leader,” he said. “I don’t think the orchestra leader makes a lot of music but gets everyone to play their instruments. The accomplishments were theirs.”

Charendoff’s position on term limits drew agreement from some long-time North Jersey community leaders, who also praised the JFN president for his role in Jewish life.

“It will certainly be a loss to the Jewish Funders Network,” said Howard Charish, executive vice president of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, “but I’m convinced that in any new role that Mark has, he will continue to make a contribution due to the fact that he’s an innovator and somebody who leads by example.”

Charish, who is retiring later this year after eight years at UJA-NNJ, agreed with Charendoff’s call for executive term limits, but added that a support system should be put into place for agencies and executives in transition.

“Although I would not say that it has to be a hard-and-fast rule, I do believe that handing the baton over should be a planned event and allow the organization new ideas and new leadership,” he said.

A regular change in leadership would help Jewish organizations prosper, said Angelica Berrie, president of the Teaneck-based Russell Berrie Foundation.

“The Jewish world is a world that can only benefit from innovation,” she said. “It’s important for us to be exposed to new things. You can’t continue to attract and inspire the next generation of donors with an executive who doesn’t grow with the times or speaks their language.”

Charendoff’s legacy, she said, is his ability to break down barriers and encourage collaboration between foundations and between Israel and America.

“The world of Jewish philanthropy is changing,” she said. “There’s a need for more collaboration, more alliances, and combining of resources. Mark led the way for that.”

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