Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey celebrates its 100th anniversary

Organization has long adapted to meet community needs

On Oct. 23, the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey will celebrate its 100th anniversary from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Katz JCC on Springdale Road. (Special to The Sun/The Sun)

The Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey (JFSNJ) will celebrate its 100th anniversary from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23, in the Katz Jewish Community Center parking lot on Springdale Road. 

The event will feature food trucks – including Bagel Spot, Kona Ice, Mr. Softee and Nothing Bundt Cake – as well as a kids bounce house. There will also be a special performance by Six13, a Jewish a capella group.

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The organization has grown immensely in the last century. What started as The Federation of Jewish Charities of Camden in 1922 grew to include seven agencies that head their own programs. The seven are: Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Community Voice, Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service, Katz Jewish Community Center, Samost Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Jewish Community Foundation, Inc., and Jewish Community Properties

“Every time there’s a new agency, a new shift in what we’re doing, a new building, it’s because we saw a need for this community to address,” said Harry Platt, president of the federation. “I think one of the most important stories in the federation’s history is how we’ve continually adapted to find and serve the needs that the community has.”

Each of the agencies has tackled a different issue in the community. Platt explained that JFCS started in the early 40s, when World War II the refugees were coming into the country. The agency, as well as the Federation, has continued to help refugees resettle in the U.S., as well as sending supplies and aid to refugees abroad.

Earlier this year, the Federation raised more than $235,000 and collected about 1,000 pounds of medical supplies worth about $70,000 for delivery to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war with Russia. 

“The JCRC addresses anti-semitism by making connections with religious leaders outside of the Jewish religion to help build those bridges, to make sure everyone’s fighting hatred and antisemitism,” Platt noted.

“Whatever it is – if it’s hatred – we have to work together and fight back,” he added. “And JCRC is leading the way community-wise to do that.”

In recent years, the Federation developed Weinberg Commons, an affordable housing community for seniors and adults with special needs in Cherry Hill, in addition to other properties such as the Jewish Senior Housing and Healthcare Service’s Saltzman House in Cherry Hill and the Lions Gate Continuing Care Retirement Community in Voorhees.

“We are just incredibly proud of where we’ve been and extremely proud of where we’re going and how we’re addressing needs that need to be addressed,” said Platt. “Our system has grown tremendously with the amount of people working for us and with us, with the number of facilities we have to take care of, our community… there’s just so much potential for the future.”

Though walk-ins are welcome, those interested in attending the anniversary can register online at https://www.jewishsouthjersey.org/fed100.

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