AJC Activist Chooses a Jewish Mission

Kim Pimley in New Jersey Jewish News

New Jersey Jewish News

April 8, 2014

Kim Pimley admits to having been the kind of schoolkid whose hand shot up when a teacher asked for volunteers. She was also the youngest of five.

It’s not surprising, then, that she knows how to make her presence felt, and is a passionate advocate for the causes she champions.

Chief among those are Princeton Healthcare System, of whose board of trustees she was recently appointed chair, and the American Jewish Committee.

Pimley is immediate past president of AJC Central New Jersey; she now serves on the organization’s 23-member national executive council and chairs its leadership development. She is also a member of its Transatlantic Institute Board.

She and her husband Michael and son Oliver came to live in Princeton in 1996 (“Oh, this is our chai year,” she said), where she is past congregational president of The Jewish Center. She is a former member of the board of Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, serves on the board of McCarter Theatre on the Princeton University campus, has been active in the Democratic Party, and was on the boards of the Pennington School and Opera Festival of New Jersey.

All this is in addition to working with Michael in their firm, Pimley and Pimley, which offers consultation in credit and corporate finance training in the United States and dozens of other countries.

While that takes deft time management, Pimley said, “I find the wisdom gained from one organization often proves helpful at others.”

Pimley plays down her achievements, talking instead about all “the amazing people of such incredible caliber” with whom she has worked. Nevertheless, her efforts have garnered much recognition. In addition to other honors, last year she received the AJC Philip Forman Human Relations Award.

While her teachers and her family might have foreseen her dedication to service, the Jewish side might have surprised them. Pimley, as she puts it, is a “faith Jew.” She grew up, in Chicago, as a Catholic, and discovered a love of Judaism as a teenager. She converted in her 20s, and these days counts chanting Torah as one of her great joys.

Her husband is not Jewish; their son Oliver, now 21, is, and as a student at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., has followed his mother’s example: He has led the on-campus multicultural society and Hillel. “He definitely knows how to lead a meeting,” his mother said.

Getting Jews — especially young ones — to step forward and participate in community organizations has become one of her primary goals. Her advice to those wary of volunteering: “Just take one little step. Go and pretend that you’re enjoying it, and you’ll soon find how rewarding it is to contribute your energy and wisdom. I always get more out of my activism than I put into it.”

As to how she got involved with AJC, she said part of that was timing: A friend collared her just after her term as synagogue president ended and she was feeling a relative abundance of free time. And then there was AJC’s mission, which struck a deep chord for her. She insisted on quoting its mission statement verbatim, spelling out its commitment to enhancing “the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world.”

She added, “AJC’s proactive, relationship-based advocacy around the world is a true blessing for the Jewish people. I’m very honored and proud to be part of it.”


Missions accomplished

AS A MEMBER of American Jewish Committee overseas missions, Kim Pimley traveled to four countries in a matter of weeks in late February and early March.

The first trip was to Belgium, as part of the 34-member mission to celebrate the 10th anniversary of AJC’s Transatlantic Institute. Led by executive director David Harris, the AJC delegation attended a gala in Brussels celebrating the relationship between Europe and the United States — and AJC’s role in fostering that bond — and spent two-and-a-half days in intensive meetings with European parliamentarians, Jewish leaders, and policy analysts.

They discussed the Iranian nuclear threat, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the impact of Muslim immigrants on Europe, and the growing anti-Semitism, a factor reflected in a new EU report. The group also visited the European Parliament to discuss EU-Israel relations.

Pimley, who has served on the TAI board for the past two years, said, “Because Brussels lacks ‘think tanks’ and the ‘issues education’ that they provide, TAI fills this vacuum as a trusted and much relied upon resource for reliable information for the EU community.”

The second trip took her to Greece, Cyprus, and Azerbaijan. Her son, Oliver, accompanied the mission. In each place, they met with national leaders and community activists, drawing, Pimley said, on long relationships fostered by AJC in its pursuit of human rights — not just for Jews but for everyone — and closer ties with Israel.

In Greece, where more than 80 percent of the Jewish community perished in the Holocaust, there are now only about 5,000 members. But she was astounded to discover that Azerbaijan has a thriving Jewish community of 20,000, and, Pimley said, “They are treated very well.”


Date: 4/9/2014

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