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Golfing fundraiser renamed in memory of Paul Kudowitz

Pars for Parkinsons benefit tees off in May

An annual golfing benefit for Parkinson’s research was started by and for one Bergen County Jewish family last year. Now, the circle has widened.

Pars for Parkinson’s was the brainchild of Teaneck’s Dr. Lou Flancbaum and his wife, Debby. Lou Flancbaum, a surgeon, had to retire at age 53 in 2007 because of the progressive neurological condition. He discovered his passion for golf after his physician recommended exercise to stave off the stiffness and loss of balance that accompany Parkinson’s disease.

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Dr. Paul Kudowitz COURTESY KUDOWITZ FAMILY

Last spring, the inaugural event raised more than $44,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, with the help of a cadre of volunteers recruited through the “teaneckshuls” and “englewoodshuls” Yahoo groups. One of those volunteers was Ricki Kudowitz of Englewood, herself a Parkinson’s patient.

This year, the May 15 event has been renamed Pars for Parkinson’s: The Paul Kudowitz Memorial Golf Outing, in memory of Ricki Kudowitz’s husband, an anesthesiologist killed by a car as he walked home from davening at his son Brian’s home in Englewood on Dec. 24. A month later, his 13-year-old daughter, Moriah School eighth-grader Sabrina, came along to the Pars committee meeting.

When Debby Flancbaum showed the group some sample Michael J. Fox Foundation rubber bracelets, Sabrina offered to sell them at Moriah and got permission to do so.

“I’ve sold 35, and there are more kids waiting for the next batch to come in,” Sabrina told The Jewish Standard.

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At last year’s Pars for Parkinson golf outing are, from left, Steven Levy, Dr. Lou Flancbaum, and Jay Greenspan. This year’s outing has been renamed in memory of Dr. Paul Kudowitz of Englewood, pictured at top, who was killed in a hit-run accident Dec. 24. Paula Kelly/Paula Kelly Designs

The bracelets are available in royal blue and pink, with orange and red lettering that says “Team Fox” and “Paul Kudowitz Memorial Golf Outing.”

The next batch of 1,000 also will be sold by Sabrina’s older sisters — Cara, 21, at Rutgers University, and Ariele, 25, and Shanna, 24, who live and work in Manhattan. In addition, bracelets will be sold at the Frisch School in Paramus by Haley Silverstein, whose mother is on the Pars committee and whose grandfather had Parkinson’s. The Kudowitz daughters made a Facebook page to help promote the bracelets.

Brian Kudowitz and his wife, Laura, are raising funds for the charity event and are planning to compete in a triathlon this summer for the benefit of the Fox Foundation. “Laura bakes and sells challah every week and earmarks the proceeds to the triathlon and Pars,” said her mother-in-law.

The oldest Kudowitz daughter, Robyn, and her husband, Jonathan Katz, had volunteered to donate hot dogs and burgers for the outing through their Kosher Sports business even before the death of her father.

“We’re a family of doers,” said Ricki Kudowitz. It had been her husband who had noticed the posting on Englewoodshuls about the Pars for Parkinsons committee and had encouraged her to get involved. “He was always a proactive person. He believed you get things by going after them.”

Children of several other committee members have pitched in to solicit corporate and goods-and-services donations, said Flancbaum, including her own daughter, Rachel Sicolo, who works at Kessler Rehab Center and got a donation of anesthetic ointment for the golfers.

“Everyone’s children were moved by what happened with Paul,” said Debby Flancbaum. “It’s very touching. Haley Silverstein never met the Kudowitzes but she wants to start coming to the meetings with her mother. The story has touched people and made them think twice about the fragility of life. There is a feeling that they want some good to come from [the tragedy].”

The second annual Pars for Parkinson’s Golf Outing will take place at Terry Brae Golf Course in South Fallsburg, N.Y. “The excitement and tremendous support mounting around this year’s event make us confident that we will reach and surpass our new goal of $50,000,” said Lou Flancbaum.

The event costs $180 per person or $600 per foursome and includes golf, a cart, kosher continental breakfast and barbecue lunch, beer, soft drinks, a Team Fox golf shirt, a sleeve of balls and other assorted items. The hole-in-one prize is a car, donated by M and M Auto Group of Liberty, N.Y. Hole sponsorships are available for $250, $500, $750, and $1,000. Details are available at www.tinyurl.com/pars-for-parkinson-s.

Among other businesses donating goods and services are Herr’s; Monticello ShopRite; David’s Cookies of Fairfield; Jon-Da Printing of Jersey City; and Butterflake Bake Shop, Sababa Grill, Sammy’s Bagels, Ma’adan, and BLD Fine Art, all of Teaneck.

The Pars for Parkinson’s committee members are Teaneck residents Brian and Cindy Blitz, Ira Goetz, Avi Goldin, Les Glubo, Phillip and Marlene Rhodes, Rabbi Barry Schlesinger, Marcy Rubin, L’via Weisinger, Mike Markel, and Bob and Suzan Topaz; Mindy Silverstein of Fair Lawn; Alex and Vicki Wulwick of River Edge; Tova Flancbaum of Manhattan; and Englewood residents Ricki Kudowitz, Jonathan and Robyn Katz, Brian and Laura Kudowitz, and Sabrina Kudowitz.

 
 

Federation Fund to support creative change

When UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey adopted a strategic plan last year, its leaders kept in mind that not only do communal needs change, but communal organizations must change as well to effectively service those needs.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve come to realize that the federation itself had to change, to be more nimble, flexible, and innovative,” said its president, Alan Scharfstein. “We have a great base, but times are changing. We must make sure the organization changes along with them.”

UJA-NNJ is fashioning vehicles to accomplish this change, he said. Among these initiatives is the Adler Family Innovation Fund.

“What we recognize is that we really need to create an atmosphere of innovation,” said Scharfstein. “We need to engage new stakeholders and donors with whom our traditional models may not resonate.” For this, he said, “We need to develop new sources of funding to keep the organization fresh and vibrant.”

The Innovation Fund builds on the idea that while UJA-NNJ must continue to support core agencies, “we also need to develop the ability to fund innovative ideas; to encourage people who have great new ideas that could benefit the Jewish community and to provide them with seed funding.”

Whether viewed as “venture philanthropy or a way of encouraging the brightest in the community to focus attention on creative ideas,” the fund is a way of “combining all these great ideas into an actionable and real entity,” he said. “It allows us to show that we’re a community that puts its money where its mouth is.”

In addition to monetary contributions, he said, the fund is looking for volunteers to become involved in the preliminary review of proposals as well as post-grant mentoring functions.

Tenafly resident Carol Silberstein, chair of the funding process subcommittee of the Innovation Fund, said the thinking behind the venture was “to broaden our own understanding and support for groups doing important work in the community and open up the universe of potential grantees beyond those we generally fund.”

She believes the fund will help engage new constituencies and “touch donor passions. Our goal really is to act as an incubator for new and creative programs [that] solve problems in our community,” she said, noting that “community” embraces Israel as well as other countries.

Silberstein, who formerly headed the federation’s overseas allocations committee, cited four priorities arising from the strategic planning process: promoting and expanding a sense of Jewish community in northern New Jersey; enhancing affordability and access to Jewish cultural and educational experiences; providing a safety net to protect Jews in need; and strengthening the connection between this area and Israel.

“The Innovation Fund is directly tied in to these four categories, looking for proposals that advance any of these areas,” she said. In addition, “we are particularly interested in projects that involve collaboration between two or more organizations, with the objective of sharing resources and expertise in order to maximize impact.”

Silberstein said she has researched the experience of other federations that do this kind of funding and, based on her findings, expects a good response. The goal is to raise $300,000 for the first year of the fund’s operation.

Tenafly resident Dana Adler — who together with husband James and in-laws Mike and Elaine Adler has made a large initial gift to the fund — said that as a Berrie Fellow several years ago, she learned that younger people like to “follow the money they give away.”

“What this [fund] might provide is a forum for young philanthropists to get together and truly follow their money to see how it makes an impact in the community,” she said.

Speaking to the importance of using social media such as Facebook and YouTube to recruit and educate new donors, she suggested, for example, that those interested in contributing to a group home might want to see what is actually going on in those facilities.

With the aid of a camera, “they could see how young people there make Shabbat dinner and feel good that their money went there,” she said. Or those interested in funding additional programs for the PJ Library/Shalom Baby project but who cannot attend the programs personally, might view them on YouTube or visit a special Facebook page.

Using Hillel as another example of a program that might excite young donors, Adler said “Maybe someone not involved in local Jewish philanthropy might get turned on by something like Hillel after they see how it works.”

Adler, who pointed out that both her parents and her in-laws have been involved with the federation and other Jewish causes for many years, said that she hopes the fact that hers is a family gift will inspire other young people.

“I’m not quite sure the idea of the annual fund will work forever,” she said. “It’s up to federation to reinvent itself. This is one way. It’s a fund where people can see what happens to their philanthropic investments. There needs to be a lot of ways, many portals, to involvement.”

For further information about the Innovation Fund, e-mail Miriam Allenson, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or call (201) 820-3921.

 
 
 
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