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UJA-NNJ reaches out through Kehillah Cooperative to share costs, save money

The national recession has resulted in decreased donations to charities across the board, but it has also spurred local Jewish organizations to enter a cost-sharing initiative that could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey convened a July 29 meeting at its Paramus headquarters to highlight its successes in the year-old Kehillah Cooperative — the federation’s role in the wider Kehillah Partnership — and draw new organizations to the program. To date, 29 organizations have signed up and collectively saved more than $300,000 on electric bills. (The Kehillah Partnership is a group of community organizations banded together to realize savings in cost and programmatic resources.)

“The sole purpose [of the cooperative] is to try to save the Jewish community money,” said Dan Silna, former president of UJA-NNJ, as he welcomed attendees.

The federation expects participating organizations to save another $125,000 by the middle of next year, said Matt Holland, UJA-NNJ’s community purchasing manager, who explained the program to some 50 representatives of more than 30 communal organizations.

Eight organizations have recently signed contracts to join the electricity cost-sharing program, while four more are reviewing the program, which could lead to annual savings of $125,092 for these 12 groups, according to UJA-NNJ.

The federation solicits bids from companies for electricity, shipping, credit-card processing, and office supplies, among other providers, Holland explained. The company with the best prices then becomes the supplier for the entire cooperative. For electricity, for example, the federation arranges for a single supplier, such as ConEdison or Suez, through PSE&G. Supply costs can account for 78 percent of an electric bill.

New vendors include Systrum, which Holland said could save $200,000 of a $2.5 million annual communal gas bill; FedEx, which he said could save $150,000 annually on shipping costs; and iPayment, a credit-card processing service that Holland said could save between $65,000 and $150,00 for the cooperative.

Participating organizations do not, however, have to sign up for every service offered, he said. More participation means more leverage, though, he added.

“The more participation we get, the easier it is for me to go out and swing a big stick,” he said.

Holland stressed that there is no fee to join the program, nor does the federation receive any fee from the vendors.

The program appears to have already had a small impact for Jewish education.

Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey in River Edge, Yavneh Academy in Paramus, Solomon Schechter Day School in New Milford, and Gerrard Berman Day School, Solomon Schechter of North Jersey in Oakland saved a combined $24,000 through the cooperative’s electrical group-purchasing plan, according to UJA-NNJ.

Electrifying numbers

The Kehillah Cooperative has saved 16 organizations $304,874.61 in electric costs from July 2009 to June 2010, according to UJA-NNJ.

The Frisch School and Yeshivat Noam in Paramus, and The Moriah School in Englewood, also recently signed up.

“We really believe this is a value to the community, something we’re set up to do,” Miriam Allenson, UJA-NNJ’s marketing director, told the Standard. “It’s something we can give back to the community.”

Since last week’s meeting, Holland has received at least 25 e-mails about the program. The economic downturn has been a driving force, he said.

“When everybody’s doing very well, people aren’t looking at this closely,” he said. “To think outside the box and join together as a community — the economy drove that.”

Attendees at the meeting who were already active in the Cooperative appeared happy with their choices.

“You can see what the savings have been and what the potential is,” said Lisa Fedder, executive director of Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson, one of the groups participating in the cooperative’s gas and electric aspects.

“This is what federation should be doing,” said Wally Greene, executive director of the Jewish Center of Teaneck and former director of the federation’s Jewish Educational Services. “I look forward to seeing more.”

Who's in?

The following organizations are part of the Kehillah Cooperative:

Bergen County Y, a JCC
Daughters of Miriam Center/The Gallen Institute
Jewish Family Service of Bergen County
Jewish Home Assisted Living
Jewish Home at Rockleigh
Kaplen JCC on the Palisades
Cong. Beth Abraham
Cong. Beth Sholom (Teaneck)*
Cong. Bnai Yeshurun*
Glen Rock Jewish Center*
Jewish Center of Teaneck
Temple Beth El of Northern Valley*
Temple Sinai of Bergen County*
Frisch School
Gerrard Berman Day School
Moriah School
Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey
Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County
Yeshiva Ohr Simcha
Yeshivat Noam
Jewish Association for Developmental Disabilities
Cong. Beth Shalom (Pompton Lakes)*
Cong. Shomrei Torah (Fair Lawn)

*In addition to these synagogues, supplementary or nursery schools operating within these institutions are independently participating in the Kehillah Cooperative.

 
 

Area to mark Yom HaShoah

Saturday night begins the 27th day of Nissan, the Hebrew date chosen by the Israeli Knesset as Yom HaShoah, Holocaust memorial day. For more than 20 years, one of the most vivid commemorations has been the March of the Living, in which thousands of young Jews walk the three kilometers from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the gas chambers at Birkenau.

This year, for the first time, the memorial ceremony held at Birkenau following the march will be broadcast by Jewish Life Television, and the broadcast will be the centerpiece of the annual commemorations of the UJA Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Frisch School in Paramus.

The broadcast will feature an addresses from Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Holocaust survivor Irving Roth, director of the Holocaust Resource Center at Temple Judea in Manhasset, N.Y., who founded the Adopt a Survivor program. There will also be music from singer Dovid (Dudu) Fisher and the chief cantor of Tel Aviv, who will chant the El Maleh memorial prayer.

The Paramus event is one of dozens of community Yom HaShoah commemorations around the country that will be tuning in to the March of the Living broadcast.

In addition to the broadcast, the Paramus ceremony will feature a procession of 68 children holding candles, marking the 68th year since the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and a commemoration for the Jews of Europe held in Paterson in 1943. That commemoration became an annual event and was the precursor of the UJA Federation commemoration, making this the oldest continuous Holocaust program in the United States, according to Wally Greene, spokesman for the UJA Federation Holocaust Memorial Committee.

On Sunday evening, a recording of Hoenlein’s remarks will be played at another community Yom HaShoah event, at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, at 7 p.m.

The keynote speaker at the JCC event will be Eva Lux Braun, who survived Auschwitz and lives in Queens. She will share her first-hand experience about what it was like for her and her loved ones to suffer in Auschwitz, how they coped with things that should never occur in everyday life, and the “small miracles connected to faith, hope, and survival.”

There will be a candlelighting ceremony by survivors and their families.

The Abe Oster Holocaust Remembrance Award will be presented to the winner of a contest in which high school students were asked to write a poem that conveys lessons learned from studying the Holocaust.

The Yeshivat Noam Choir, students of the JCC Thurnauer School of Music, and Abraham Barzelay will provide music.

Also on Sunday night, at 8 p.m., five Englewood synagogues will hold a community Yom HaShoah event at Cong. Ahavath Torah, featuring a video presentation, “Triumph of the Spirit,” the story of Esther Jungreis and her family during and after the Holocaust.

“The message of the film is that even though the intent was to eradicate the Jewish people, we survived and came through,” said Richard Friend, chairman of the committee that organizes the event.

“It’s a very moving film,” he said.

In Teaneck, the annual Holocaust remembrance will take place 7:30 p.m Monday night at Teaneck High School featuring Fanya Gottesfeld Heller. Heller is the author of “Love in a World of Sorrow: A Teenage Girl’s Holocaust Memoirs,” which was made into the documentary film “Teenage Witness: The Fanya Heller Story.”

There will be a musical performance by Zalmen Mlotek.

 
 
 
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