July 14, 2024
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July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Every now and then, it’s time to zone out from what’s happening out there, like civil strife and hurricanes, and focus on something that just feels good.

Meet Natha McCoy. If you know Federation, you know Natha. After all, she has been working for Jewish Federation longer than many of us, including me, have been on the planet. I won’t tell you my age, but I will tell you that Natha started working for Jewish Federation just shy of 50 years ago.

Every year, we award and acknowledge staff for their years of service to the community. Five years ago, after handing out the acknowledgements, Natha mentioned to me that while so many on staff go for conferences or to work on missions, she had never been to Israel. After a second of thought, I said to her, “I promise you for your 50th anniversary, if I’m still here, you will go.” Natha, for whom laughter is second nature, laughed.

I thought about that conversation for several days, and decided a verbal promise wasn’t enough. Nor should it matter whether I would still be CEO or not. Natha serves our community every single day with a smile, warmth and commitment. For me and many of us, Natha is not just our colleague, she’s our friend and, more importantly, a part of the Federation family. So, just to make sure I remembered our talk, I put a note in her file.

Two weeks ago, to make good on that promise, we sent Natha to Israel. It’s our way of thanking and acknowledging her on the anniversary of her amazing half-century commitment to the mission of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

Natha spent the week in Israel with our Managing Director of Finance Melody Maravillas, who was attending the Jewish Federation of North America Finance & Technology Professionals Institute Mission. Every day, Melody sent us pictures of Natha with that wonderful smile of hers. One of those pictures shows Natha next to a plaque at the Technion recognizing Russell Berrie—whom Natha knew as a friend and supporter of our Federation—for his philanthropy and humanitarian efforts.

Natha’s warmth and sincerity and her commitment to Israel is best illustrated when, just before she left, I went to give her a hug and wish her safe travels and asked her which United flight she was on. She said, “Are you kidding me? I am only flying El-Al!”

I am truly proud and honored to be a colleague of Natha McCoy’s and thrilled to finally have been able to fulfill her dream of seeing our Jewish state. It did get me thinking, though, about Natha’s next 50 years of service. Maybe we’ll make sure she is vested!

By Jason M. Shames

 Jason Shames is the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

 

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