Benjamin Leonard Bendit was born on June 19, 1925. He was the younger of two children born to parents who immigrated to the US in the early part of the 20th century from Eastern Europe. His father founded and ran a successful charter bus company, while his mother ran the household. He grew up in Irvington, NJ, and excelled in academics, graduating with honors from Irvington High. He started college at Rutgers in New Brunswick, but this was short lived because at age eighteen he joined the army and was sent overseas where he served in the medical corps as an x-ray technician. After the war Ben returned home and continued his college education through the GI bill at Indiana University where he completed both a bachelor’s and law degree. He graduated in 1949 and returned East to start his own law practice. Within three years he was joined by Tom Weinstock and by 1958 the firm grew to four partners called Bendit, Weinstock, Cummins and Kroner. The firm is now known as Bendit Weinstock.
Rosalyn “Roz” (Katz) Bendit was born on September 30, 1930, in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants Anna Katz Rosenbaum and Max Katz. She spent her early years in Freehold, New Jersey, moved to Newark for one year and then her family moved to Kearny where she lived until her marriage. Roz attended Kearny High School and then went on to Rutgers University in Newark where she earned a B.A. in psychology. She was quite an active student during her college years, earning the honor of being selected for Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. During college Roz was involved in the psychology club, the Tarbut Society and was assistant editor of the college yearbook.
Roz and Ben met in 1950 and married in February of 1952. They moved to Livingston after they had their first child, Charlie, followed by three other children, Felicia, Ezra and Michael. Ben and Roz were both very civic minded. Ben joined a group of attorneys from NJ who went to Mississippi in 1967 to help register black voters. He later ran for Livingston Town Council and State Assembly; although he lost these races, he did not lose his desire to serve and redirected his efforts. Roz was active in the League of Women Voters, the PTA at her children’s elementary school, the zoning board of Livingston Township and volunteered for the Livingston Student Development Program (LSDP). In 1972, one year after her oldest child started college, Rosalyn and a friend started a counseling business titled “College Advisory Service” after observing that there was an unmet need for college bound students at the local high school. She noticed that juniors and seniors desperately needed guidance to help them decide to which schools they should apply while in high school.
Roz and Ben were by nature, very caring and generous people, becoming deeply involved with Israel Bonds and UJA. But their real passion was the NJY Camps. All four of their children attended the camps and they saw the camps as a place for young people from Northern New Jersey communities to meet and to spend great summers together enjoying the camp experience while being imbued with the Jewish values, they felt were so important. Ben served as president of the camps from 1977 to 1980.
Ben passed away on December 10, 1984, and Rosalyn on January 9, 2022. Their legacy lives on in all the campers that have enjoyed summers at NJY Camps thanks to their past financial commitment and currently thanks to their children who have followed in their footsteps and continue to support the camp’s scholarship program.