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JFS of Central NJ to Recognize Honorees at Gala Dinner Dance

The Jewish Family Service of Central New Jersey (JFS) Gala Dinner Dance will be held Thursday evening, December 8, at the Crystal Plaza, located in Livingston, NJ. The dinner is the main fund-raising event that benefits the agency’s work on behalf of the community.

Dr. Lynne B. Harrison will receive the Lilly K. Gottlieb Award. Dr Harrison is president of Harrison Research Laboratories, Inc., which she founded in 1981. The company tests products for safety and efficacy for major companies in the USA, Canada, Europe, Israel, South America and Asia-Pacific.

Dr. Harrison is a board member of Friends of Israel Sci Tech and USA Space Israel Board. She has served as vice chair of the Hillel International board of directors as well as a member of the Hillel International board of governors. She was chair of the Hillel International accreditation committee and a member of the Hillel Latin American Regional Board. Hillel named her “Woman of the Year” in 2009, honoring her with the founders’ award. She founded and funded Harrison LAPID for the leadership and professional development of young Hillel professionals.

Harrison was an officer of the United Jewish Community Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. She founded and funded the three-story Dr. Lynne B. Harrison STEM Center at Golda Och Academy, located in West Orange. She also founded and funded the Dr. Lynne B. Harrison Science Center at the New Jersey “Y” Camps, which offers specialty education to young Jewish campers in chemistry, biology, physics, exercise physiology, astronomy and robotics.

Rabbi Chaim Marcus, rabbi of Congregation Israel, located in Springfield, NJ, will receive the JFS Rabbinic Leadership Award. Rabbi Marcus has made a dramatic impression on his community and has led many efforts to engage his community in food drives and has helped link the community to services for Holocaust survivors.

In addition to leading the dynamic Congregation Israel community, Rabbi Marcus teaches Judaic studies at Bruriah High School for Girls in Elizabeth, is the Mashgiach Ruchani (spiritual guide) at the Rav Teitz Mesivta Academy and lectures widely.

Carol Billet-Fessler will be honored for 31 years of service to JFS, having served as the agency’s associate director for the past 18 years. In that capacity, she took the helm in credentialing staff to become managed-care providers, ensuring that insurance companies would reimburse for JFS services. She provided supervision for the agency’s numerous programs such as adoption services, play therapy, mental health support for children with special needs and their families, career counseling, emergency financial assistance, Holocaust survivor and caregiver assistance, grandparents as parents services and Alzheimer’s and related dementias caregiver programs.

JFS past president David Brooks, of Springfield, will receive the Ruth Bilenker Award for Outstanding Service. David and his family volunteer regularly for the food pantry and support all of the efforts of JFS in the community. Brooks is a dedicated member of Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael in Springfield, is a regular haftorah reader and frequently leads Sunday evening services.

Steve Karp, executive director of the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth, JFS’s partner agency, will receive the JFS Agency Community Service Award. As a partner agency, the JEC often works with JFS on joint projects. JEC students can be counted upon to pack food bags, run food collection drives, work in the JFS community vegetable garden, entertain at Café Europa and take part in other projects. In turn, JFS had helped a number of JEC parents who need social services to make their lives better.

Fred Kessler, JFS vice president, will receive the JFS Miriam S. Karch Award. He is special counsel to the Saiber LLC Law Firm in Florham Park, where he concentrates in mediation and arbitration. Kessler is a retired superior court judge who graduated with honors from Brandeis University and Harvard Law School. He has served on the boards of Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim in Cranford and the YM-YWHA of Union County.

Clara Fernandez serves as constituent relations director of New Jersey’s 20th legislative district. In that capacity, she works as a liaison between legislators, state agencies and constituents. She works closely with JFS in helping constituents access help to which they are entitled through various county programs.

Fernandez has been involved in the JFS art shows and has served on numerous committees at JFS through its NORC Program. She presently serves on the community advisory group for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and the Lifelong Elizabeth Program, helping to improve life in Elizabeth for the senior population.

The dinner dance committee includes Ruth Bilenker, David Brooks, Mark L. Ginsberg, Toby Goldberger, Mindy Goldberger, Michael H. Gottlieb, Eric J. Harvitt, Jennifer Pollak and Sherry and Henry Stein. The evening’s couvert is $190 per person. The cocktail hour will begin at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Glatt kashrut will be observed.

The event will feature the Shir Soul a cappella group and also include door prizes spearheaded by Jennifer Pollak.

Friends and supporters of JFS are encouraged to attend this event and to place tribute ads in the ad journal.

To submit ads and make reservations online, visit, contact them at [email protected] or call the JFS office at 908-352-8375.

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