JCC to honor two town residents as ‘Women of Valor’

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Two West Orange residents will be honored at the inaugural Women of Valor brunch hosted by the JCC MetroWest on Nov. 1, to recognize the significant impact they have made in their community.

Harriet Rosenthal and Felice Flitt are among the four women to be honored; Rosenthal has been involved with the JCC for close to 60 years, while Flitt joined the board of directors in 2012. The other two honorees are Caren Ford and Joni Cohen. Actress and New York Times bestselling author Annabelle Gurwitch will be the guest speaker.

Flitt became involved with the JCC when her sons, now 11 and 9 years old, attended pre-school there.

“The friendships they made and the friendships that I made are very close,” she said in a phone interview with the West Orange Chronicle on Oct. 20. “These are lifelong friends, so I’ve wanted to stay involved.”

Growing up in Rockland County, N.Y., Flitt said that she and her family were always a part of the JCC. It’s important to her that members stay involved when they initially join.

“I want to get as many people as possible to stay as involved as they can to really keep the JCC going,” she said.

While Flitt has only worked with the other honorees sporadically during her time on the board of the JCC, she has been able to look to them as examples to learn from, especially Rosenthal.

“This is the first event, and these people have been so involved,” Flitt said. “Harriet especially, with the years she has been here alone. Every time she speaks I learn so much, and I just want to keep that up.”

Rosenthal grew up in nearby Orange and joined the JCC board in 1975.

“My work in this agency took me to the national and international boards and into our Federation and its agencies,” she wrote in her JCC biography. “I have been privileged to work, think, learn and lead with brilliant and committed Jews, who have devoted lifetimes of effort to one basic tenet of our faith — to improve the world.”

JCC MetroWest CEO Stuart Raynor said the organization wanted to find a way to honor the people who have been leaders in the community.

“We wanted to honor women in our community and in the JCC that have continued to show commitment and leadership,” he told the Chronicle in an interview on Oct. 19. “A group of our leaders decided on people who had the leadership and qualities that we look for.”

Of the two West Orange honorees, Raynor said that both Rosenthal and Flitt, though in different time frames, have been involved with the JCC in many of the same ways.

“Harriet has continued to show interest,” he said. “She’s active all the time. She was a natural fit because she been here and been great for a long time. Felice is from that younger generation of ongoing involvement. She’s always the first to volunteer for everything and help out. There are so many great things from all generations, and this is a great representation of that.”

The community aspect of MetroWest has motivated Flitt to volunteer her time.

“It’s a Jewish community center, but it’s really open to the public,” she said. “I’m as close to those people as I am to my family, and I’m really close with my family. I’m honored to be recognized with these three people, who are just pillars of the community and are able to help keep that tradition going for me as well.”