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JFS Conference for caregivers at UJA Federation

When an elderly parent or spouse begins needing daily assistance, the caregiver faces often overwhelming dilemmas: How can I manage a balance between my own young family and responsibility for my parent? How can I find time for myself? What options exist for respite and long-term care?

Sheila Steinbach, director of clinical and adult care management at Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson, is familiar with these questions on both a professional and personal level.

“It can be a complex, overwhelming situation and we receive quite a few inquiries on this subject from ‘sandwich generation’ children and spouses,” said Steinbach, who is herself in the position of helping to tend older and younger family members.

On Nov. 15, the agency will present “Caring for a Loved One: You are Not Alone” at the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, 50 Eisenhower Drive in Paramus, 12:45 to 4 p.m.

The conference is co-sponsored by UJA-NNJ, the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, the Bergen County YJCC in Washington Township, and Jewish Family Service of North Jersey in Wayne.

“So many of us are dealing with this situation, and it was clearly larger than our client base,” said JFS Bergen & North Hudson Executive Director Lisa Fedder, who travels frequently to Baltimore to see to her own mother’s needs. “This is a community-wide problem, and we wanted to reach out to as many community partners as we could.”

Fedder added that the economic crisis has contributed to the stress felt by many family caregivers. “What pushed this issue to the forefront now was the fact that money has become tighter and many people are no longer able to juggle all the balls by themselves. If we can help answer their concerns, we hope they will be able to be more effective in providing care.”

Steinbach and Debbie Turitz, director of Senior Adult Services at the Kaplen JCC, will present a workshop on creating a balance specifically for members of the so-called sandwich generation — a term coined in 1981 by sociologist Dorothy Miller to describe a segment of the middle-aged generation that cares for both young and older family members without receiving reciprocal support.

Other breakout workshops will include “Accessing Community Support Services” by Patty Stoll of JFS Bergen and North Hudson; “Caregivers are Important Too” by Ann Pogolowitz of JFS Northern New Jersey and Devra Kanter of the Bergen County YJCC; and “Creative Planning: Legal and Financial Issues” by Ridgewood elder-law specialist Michael Manna, who also will give a presentation on legal and financial planning.

Stoll will make a presentation on care options in and out of the home. Dr. Terri Feldman Katz, director of the Center for Dynamic Aging in Hackensack, will speak on medical issues of the elderly.

The conference, which is open to the general public, is not only for those already providing care.

Steinbach said that many clients have told her they were suddenly plunged into the caregiving role and were caught unprepared.

“One day the parent is doing fine and then something happens overnight and the adult child or spouse needs immediate answers and resources,” she said. “So we are also hoping to attract people who are not yet in the situation so that they can learn what’s available to them.”

Registration costs $12 by Nov. 10 or $15 at the door. Kosher refreshments will be provided. For information, call (201) 837-9090 or go to


UJA-NNJ Mitzvah Day site-hopping

Klene Up Krewe, a project of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, has brought local groups to New Orleans for rebuilding efforts since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Klene Up Krewe 5 lasted three days and included 36 participants and coincided with Mitzvah Day. A member of the New Orleans Saints—Pierson Prioleau — joined the group Sunday to help renovate Camp Hope 3 in St. Bernard Parish. The Krewe is pictured here in St. Bernard after working on three homes destroyed by the hurricane. The Klene Up Krewe is led by co-chairs (and Berrie Fellows) David Goodman and Larry Weiss. Another rebuilding trip is planned for early 2010.

On Nov. 1, UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey offered area Jews an opportunity to do good. Mitzvah Day 2009 sent some 1,500 volunteers all over Bergen and Passaic counties to help others in the community.

Among the projects:

Cantor Bill Walton of the Glen Rock Jewish Center helps Irwin Hoffman as he plays a game at the Mitzvah Day carnival at the Daughters of Miriam Center in Clifton. Ken Hilfman

• At the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford, volunteers made Chanukah cards for Israeli soldiers and crafted Shabbat/Chanukah placemats to be donated to Tomchei Shabbos in Fair Lawn and Elmwood Park. Linda Scherzer Mikay, a former CNN reporter in Israel, helped her 5-year-old twins Noa and Danny make cards. Schechter students Elisheva Gold and Rebecca Finkelstein, both 10 years old, worked on the placemats.

• An American soldier, just back from Iraq, joined a group at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Congregation B’nai Israel assembling and packing donated personal care items to be mailed to American bases overseas. The soldier had received a similar care package last year. Site captains Mark Meisel and Barbara Seiden said they were “very pleased” with the work of some 30 volunteers, who “finished early.”

Alyson Angstreich, a student at Ramapo College in Mahwah and member of Hillel, works with a child at a Friendship Circle Mitzvah Day event at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey in River Edge. Courtesy Hillel

• A first-time visit was made to the Federation Apartments in Paterson by the dance troupe of the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies. Principal Fred Nagler, who accompanied the students, noted that the group performed both Israeli and contemporary dances. Michal Richardson, a teacher at the school, involved the audience in “dancing with their hands and bodies.”

• Technology played an important role with wheelchair-bound residents at the Daughters of Miriam Center in Clifton. Jacob Reiss, 12, Jeremy Winter, 13, and Isadora Baron, 12, helped residents with a remote control as they played Wii games on a wide television screen. Other attractions at the annual DOM Mitzvah Day Carnival included Clown Toss, Target Toss, and Tip the Can. Rabbi Neil Tow and Cantor Bill Walton of the Glen Rock Jewish Center were on hand to assist the residents. Assistant Director for Activities Leah McCrae, whose 9-year-old son, Gerard, helped out as well, was in charge of distributing prizes.

Ten-year-olds Elisheva Gold, left, and Rebecca Finkelstein prepare Shabbat/Chanukah placemats to be donated to Tomchai Shabbos of Fair Lawn and Elmwood Park at the Mitzvah Day event at the Solomon Schechter Day School. KEN HILFMAN

Alice Blass, Mitzvah Day coordinator, said that the day “was filled with good feeling,” pointing out that one student at SSDS in Bergen celebrated her birthday by inviting friends to join her at the Mitzvah Fair for Families at the school. And not only did hundreds of people participate in the event, but “we even had dogs and a guinea pig visiting with seniors.”

Cheryl Wylen, coordinator of Mitzvah Day at the YM-YWHA of North Jersey in Wayne, reported that activities there included a blood drive, making Chemo caps to be donated to Chilton Hospital for cancer patients, and making centerpieces for Cafe Europa’s Chanukah party. Donations included cell phones for Phones for Life; eyeglasses for New Eyes for the Needy; and purses for Mature Sistah’s Homeless Shelter for Women.


Federations look to the future

JCorps founder wins first Jewish Community Heroes award

After weeks of deliberation and the tally of more than 600,000 online votes, the Jewish Federations of North America has named its first Jewish Community Hero — Teaneck native Ari Teman, the founder of JCorps.
A panel of judges from outside the federation system chose Teman, 27, for the $25,000 Jewish Community Heroes prize after whittling down a list of more than 400 nominees, which also included Rabbi Ephraim Simon, director of Friends of Lubavitch of Bergen County in Teaneck. Simon, who was nominated because of his donation of a kidney to a stranger, garnered 8,210 votes to make it into the list of top 20 semifinalists but was not chosen to be among the top five.

The Jewish Federations announced the winner Tuesday at the closing plenary session of its General Assembly in Washington. The contest was part of the federation system’s new multimillion-dollar marketing and rebranding strategy to broaden its base of support.

Ari Teman

Teman’s organization sets up young Jews with volunteer opportunities in nine cities over three continents — all while working on virtually no budget.

“We’re all a product of a community,” Teman, a graduate of Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, said during a press conference after he was declared the winner. “I was raised in Teaneck and I benefited a lot from the education system in Teaneck.”

Noting that Chabad had a large share of nominees in the general pool and in the top 20, Teman credited the organization for its work and for pulling him back to Judaism after he wandered away during college. The outreach group, he added, has also had an influence on JCorps.

“Chabad is way ahead of us,” he said. “If you’re traveling somewhere in the world, in some far remote village there’s a Chabad guy willing to let you in no matter what. We’ve been able to borrow from them [the philosophy of] ‘a Jew is a Jew’ and not get into the conversation of what kind of Jew are you. We got that from Chabad.”

Teman, a standup comedian by day, runs JCorps as a volunteer on a budget that is probably less than the award he will take home. Yet the organization has enlisted some 10,000 volunteers for local community service projects in the United States, Canada, and Israel.

“This will enable us to take in a lot more volunteers rapidly without having to worry, ‘Do we have to slow it down because we can’t afford to bring more people in?’” Teman said.

He started JCorps in 2007 on something of a late-night whim, he said, about how he could meet more Jewish people.

The money will help the program expand and perhaps allow Teman to hire his first professional staff member.

“The first year we started with $300,” he said. “We like to say that if we had no money we could still keep running, which is great, because it means the money we put in is for growth.

JTA/Jewish Standard


Federations look to the future

Sharansky: Israel needs the diaspora

Natan Sharansky, right, new head of the Jewish Agency for Israel and a former prisoner in the Soviet Union, chats with two active members of the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, Eva and Leo Gans. Josh Lipowsky

Israel may need the diaspora just as much as the diaspora needs Israel, Natan Sharansky, the newly appointed head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, told members of the GA delegation from UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey during a private meeting on Tuesday.

Sharansky, a former minister of diaspora Affairs and a former prisoner of Zion in the Soviet Union, took over JAFI earlier this year.

“I am trying now to refocus the Jewish Agency, a huge organization with a lot of idealistic people,” Sharansky told the group. Echoing what he said at the plenary session on Monday, he said, “I believe that [Jewish] identity has to be put in the center.”

Responding to a question from UJA-NNJ executive vice president Howard Charish on the role of Israelis in diaspora communities and an unspoken directive not to engage them in local affairs, Sharansky said he was never one to follow instructions. The model where the diaspora looks to Israel for a Jewish connection but not vice versa, which he said was likely directed by Israel itself, is outdated.

“We are one people,” he said. “We’re a global world. I think you have to do your best [for] Russian speakers and Spanish speakers and Hebrew speakers.”

Many Israelis who leave Israel often leave behind their connections to the Jewish people — until they realize that their children are growing up without that connection, and then they begin to engage, Sharansky continued.

“Israelis are also discovering for their own interests they need the diaspora, to connect to Jewish history and tradition,” he said. “It’s less about how one helps the other but how you’re helping yourself.”

Turning toward JAFI’s role as a facilitator of aliyah, Sharansky said that though the decision today is mostly aliyah by choice, the Jewish world must be prepared in case aliyah becomes a rescue option.

Program such as MASA, which enables young Jews to study in Israel, provide professional development and connect Jews around the world to the Israel experience, he said.

North American aliyah, he added, has increased to some 4,000 a year and JAFI has dreams of it soon reaching 7,000.

“That will come only if we continue building strong Jewish communities,” he said. “It’s challenging times but I think we will succeed.”

Sharansky shared a story that when the Soviet Union prepared its case against him, prosecutors had amassed 15,000 pages of documents, listing every Jewish and anti-Soviet organization he was affiliated with. These organizations did not communicate well with each other, he said, but there they were, all listed together.

“For our enemies we are all on the same page,” he said.

UJA-NNJ makes it a point to schedule private meetings like these at the GA, Charish said afterward. Past meetings have included former UJC executive committee chairs Kathy Manning and Joe Tauber and former JAFI head Ze’ev Bielski. Some members of the local delegation told Charish that the Sharansky meeting was the best session they had attended that week.

“We felt privileged to be in his company given the fact that he’s a hero of our time and has a distinguished record of service since coming to Israel,” Charish said. “It’s good to have that small group discussion to get clarifications and understandings of positions.”


Federations look to the future

Kehillah Partnership: ‘Doing together what no agency can do alone’

Many came to the GA looking for ways to re-energize their communities and bring new and younger people into the fold. UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey and the YJCC of Bergen County came to Washington with their solution: the Kehillah Partnership.

The program, created in 2006, links the YJCC, UJA-NNJ, synagogues, and other communal organizations through cost- and resource-sharing. Rabbi Noam Marans, associate director of Contemporary Jewish Life at the American Jewish Committee, presented the program during a panel on Monday called “You Had Me at Shalom,” exploring new methods to engage young families.

“The Partnership is a place where local community agencies and institutions … work together to foster innovation and connectedness, doing together what no agency can do alone,” he told the standing room-only session. “Institutions maintain individual identities and allegiances but embrace the benefit of working together with others.”
During a Kehillah Partnership-sponsored reception later that evening, Marans, who lives in Teaneck, said the program had been well received at the conference, which made him optimistic that it could be replicated nationally.
“The greatest accomplishment is that thoughtful people in Jewish education and in institution-building have recognized the Kehillah Partnership as a national model that can be implemented locally,” he said. “We hope to enable other communities to apply the lessons we’ve learned to the specific circumstances of their communities.”

Rabbi Noam Marans talks about the Kehillah Partnership. Josh Lipowsky

Evie Rotstein, program consultant for the Partnership, said organizers have been able to capitalize on a grant they received last year from the Covenant Foundation to develop a new curriculum for sixth-grade Hebrew school teachers that integrates the arts.

“This is a very special kind of professional development for teachers,” she said. “It’s infusing arts into the curriculum and nowhere else is that happening in the U.S. Teachers are learning to utilize videography, art, dance, photography, airplane-making, jewelry-making…. They’re using the skills of the artists in bringing that back to the classroom.”

The Partnership recently brought the national PJ Library, geared toward getting young children and their families to read Jewish books, to the area. That program crosses all denominations, but for the most part, the Partnership has focused on Conservative and Reform synagogues. That, said YJCC director Harold Benus, is only because the partnership has concentrated on congregational Hebrew schools. Programs such as a planned cost-sharing initiative will reach across the Jewish community, he said.

“It’s a matter of the stage of life that we’re at,” he said. “When we can start other programs through adult programming, with broader appeal, we’ll be more successful at reaching other synagogue communities. We are in a pilot stage right now.”

The 10 congregations involved in the pilot program all agreed that the congregational schools should be the first step, Marans said. Eventually, the program will expand to include not only more synagogues, but more Jewish institutions. This will help build community “from the bottom up,” he said.

“We have learned,” Marans added, “that if one creates an environment of trust between institutions, the institutions and their lead players will work together on projects for the betterment of the entire community.”


Federations look to the future

GA shows ‘collective will’ to build and rebuild

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. Robert Cumins/Jewish Federations of North America

A delegation from UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey joined some 3,000 Jewish professionals and lay leaders from around the world in Washington this week for the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, formerly the United Jewish Communities.

Traveling with UJA-NNJ executive vice president Howard Charish was a mix of seasoned and new leaders, 36 in all, looking for new ideas and to see how their colleagues were facing the recession that has hurt campaigns across the board.

“There’s no question times are difficult,” Charish said at the end of the confab, “but also I believe there is a collective will to get through it and focus on building and rebuilding.”

He noted that at one session he attended, Steve Shrager, head of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, reported that it is expecting an $8 million shortfall this year. The organization borrowed 10 percent from its endowment last year and is taking another 11 percent this year.

“The facts of the downturn are ever-present,” Charish said. “They of course condition yearly operations. However, there have been hard times before, and one of the things that we consistently have noted is the resilience of the Jewish people and the fact that we have a history of meeting challenges.”

Meeting challenges and looking toward the future was a theme the leadership of JFNA kept touching on. “We’re going to have to stop making Shabbat separately and start making Shabbat together,” said Jerry Silverman, JFNA’s new president and CEO, during a press conference on Sunday, the opening day of the meeting. “We need to think boldly,” he continued, “and generate an abundance of ideas and engage … new consumers and lapsed users to connect with new ideas.”

UJC’s rebranding and the appointment of its new CEO point to the need to update the federation system to maintain relevance in the changing world, said Alan Scharfstein, UJA-NNJ president.

“This was a very positive meeting in terms of understanding how all the federations are looking to change the nature of the federation system and focus on problems [whose solutions would] really make a difference,” Scharfstein continued. “There seems to be a realization across the federation system that these changes we’ve been talking about are essential to keep federation relevant and move it forward.”

This was the second GA for Alan Gallatin of Wyckoff, a member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet, and despite the faltering economy, he noted a sense of optimism among participants. “The programs themselves have been painted that way,” he said. “It’s clearly a message they’re trying to get out there, but it’s a theme that’s caught on.”

The conference also included panels led by members of the UJA-NNJ delegation. Rabbi Noam Marans of Teaneck gave a presentation on the Kehillah Partnership, a project of the YJCC of Bergen County, UJA-NNJ, and other community organizations. Leonard Cole of Ridgewood introduced a panel called “Birthright: Paradigm or party,” which explored the relationships forged between the Jewish communal world and the alumni of the popular free trip to Israel. With more than 200,000 participants since the program’s inception in 1999, it has directly or indirectly affected more than one million people, Cole said, adding, “I’ve met many people inspired to take trips because of the experiences of their kids.”

The panel’s moderator, Leah Stern, an alumna of the first trip who has since made aliyah, said the program “brought abut the rebirth of my life.”

Leonard Cole of Ridgewood praised Birthright, the popular free trip to Israel offered to young Jewish adults. Josh Lipowsky

A recent Brandeis University study examined increased Jewish participation among Birthright alumni. They are 24 percent more likely to feel connected to the Jewish community, said panelist Leonard Saxe, the study’s author. Participants, he continued, are 23 percent more likely to feel connected to Israel, and non-Orthodox participants are 54 percent more likely to marry Jews.

“Birthright proves that a bold and creative and audacious plan can not only be successful but can transform behavioral patterns,” said panelist Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher of The New York Jewish Week and a Teaneck resident.

President Barack Obama had been scheduled to address the conference, but canceled in order to attend a memorial service at Fort Hood, Texas. After JFNA received word of the cancellation, a group of some 40 federation volunteers and executives were invited to a reception with the president Monday evening at the White House. There, Charish said, Obama apologized for not making it to the GA, but wished the leaders well in their mission. According to Charish, Obama said that he had been trained by the Chicago Jewish federation, knew the meaning of tzedakah, and that the federation system mirrored the American value of serving those in need.

“It was very important to receive the acknowledgment by the president of the role that Jewish federations play in communal life,” Charish said. “It was a geniuine display of friendship with the Jewish community.”

A “special moment” for Charish came when he shook hands with Obama while thanking him for his support of non-profit organizations. “I was very proud to be there,” Charish said.

GA attendees did hear from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as scheduled, about the challenges facing Israel and the peace process.

“He has never given a speech that I haven’t been impressed with,” said Gallatin. He laid out a nice vision. Better than most politicians, I think he’s not afraid to call it as he sees it, and he gives a good rationale for his plan. I hope that others are going to step up to the challenges he put out there.”

The UJA-NNJ delegation relaxes at Eli’s Restaurant. Top right: Malcolm Hoehlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. JOSH LIPOWSKY

Harold Benus, executive director of the YJCC, said he thought Netanyahu was sincere in his calls for peace.

Federations, Benus noted, are beginning to look for new models to attract younger donors, and he said he was pleased with what he saw this week. “The Jewish Federations of North America are currently undergoing a transition to determine a new direction for the future,” he said. “Considering where they are, I was happily surprised about the ability for them to carry [the conference] off.”


UJA-NNJ readies for Super Sunday

UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey has set a goal of $1.1 million for its annual Super Sunday fund-raising drive this weekend at its Paramus headquarters.

The fund-raiser is the federation’s largest throughout the year and draws hundreds of volunteers, who call thousands of committed and potential donors across the area.

Numerous local and overseas programs supported by the North American federation system have seen their budgets cut in recent months because of the country’s economic downturn. While the economy is in better shape than this time last year, organizers still expect a tough sell. “There’s a greater need,” said co-chair Jonathan Rochlin of River Edge. “There’s only going to be more need.”

The percentage of dollars going to local initiatives rather than overseas is higher than ever, said co-chair Joan Krieger of Franklin Lakes. Krieger also serves as UJA-NNJ’s assistant treasurer. “I see how this has impacted our community and some of the wonderful programs we’ve been involved with overseas,” she said. “Everything’s been cut to the bone. I hope people will step up to the plate to the extent that they can so that we don’t have to cut anymore.”

New Jersey’s 11 Jewish federations coordinated a statewide Super Sunday last December. They did not collaborate on this year’s fund-raiser, but many decided to keep the early December date, said Allison Halpern, UJA-NNJ’s donor relations director. “We found we did very well by doing it earlier,” she said. “Part of it was people want to make donations before the year ends. We raised more money from more people than we had for some years.”

Last year the federation collected $1,115,566 from 2,400 donations, 500 more donations than the previous year’s fund-raiser, which brought in $1,095,819. Because of local organizations’ increased needs, the federation held a second Super Sunday in March, which raised almost $200,000 from more than 400 donors. The federation has set a goal of $9.5 million of undesignated gifts for its 2010 annual campaign, according to Elliot Halperin, UJA-NNJ’s campaign director.

“This represents an increase compared to last year, despite continuing economic challenges,” he said. “Our campaign team, led by campaign chair Dr. Zvi Marans, is working hard to exceed this goal — and deliver even more assistance to people in our community, in Israel, and beyond.”

The success of last year’s Super Sunday at the height of the recession has made organizers hopeful of equal success this year.

“During both Super Sunday and Super Sunday 2 last year, our expectations were far exceeded,” Krieger said. “The number of people that came out and gave — both old donors and new donors — was just overwhelmingly gratifying. It shows that when they know the need is there, the people in our community are there also.”

In addition to calling, the federation will also run a blood drive and bone marrow screenings throughout the day.

Callers will stress the need for donors to do their part to help, Rochlin said. “Nobody has ever gone bankrupt by making a donation,” he said. “It’s not going to impact your lifestyle but it’s going to have a major impact on somebody.”

Those called won’t just be asked for donations, though. “If they need help we’re there to offer help, also,” Rochlin said. “If somebody says, ‘I can’t make a donation this year,’ we’ll ask if they need assistance. That’s the other side of why we’re calling.”

For more information or to volunteer, call (201) 820-3955.


Super Sunday callers net their goal

Rabbi Randall Mark of Cong. Shomrei Torah in Wayne and president of the North Jersey Board of Rabbis makes calls on Super Sunday.
Super Sunday visitors featured Israeli educators here as part of the UJA-NNJ’s Partnership Program with Nahariya. From left are Pamela Ennis and Machla Shaffer, UJA-NNJ partnership coordinators, and educators Yaakov Amichai, Mercedes Hadad, Iris Ginat, Avigayil Weiss, Aliza Klein, and Efrat Saar. PHOTOS BY KEN HILFMAN

PARAMUS — Nearly 450 volunteers helped the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey to reach its announced goal of $1.1 million in pledges during this week’s Super Sunday phonathon.

“This year’s Super Sunday was a tremendous success,” Dr. Zvi Marans, the chair of the federation’s 2010 campaign, told this newspaper.

“As of Tuesday morning, we’re still counting,” he added. “We’ve reached our goal of $1,100,000. We couldn’t have done it without the enthusiastic volunteers and the support of UJA-NNJ’s donors. It’s a support that reaffirms what we’ve always known: When our fellow Jews need us, no matter where in the world that need is, the people of northern New Jersey’s Jewish community step up to help in any way they can.”

An early visitor to the federation’s Paramus headquarters here was Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5), who congratulated the phone-bankers on their efforts to gain donor support for Jewish causes locally, in Israel, and worldwide.

George Hantgan made calls for donations on Super Sunday, after more than 50 years as a volunteer.

Local officials at Super Sunday included Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney, Sheriff Leo McGuire, N.J. Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, and state Sen. Bob Gordon. Hawthorne Mayor Richard Goldberg, while making calls, said, “It’s very important that we get together and raise money for our community to help education, and programs for all our people. It’s a great opportunity, and I’m glad to be here.”

During the 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. event, Super Sunday Co-Chair Jonathan Rochlin made frequent announcements regarding the total amount pledged to date, and thanked the volunteers, saying, “Keep up the good work.”

Leslie Felner of Fair Lawn was there to do a “triple mitzvah.” While she was giving blood in the Community Services Bloodmobile, she said, “Here I am, giving blood, and I just placed my name on a bone marrow registry, and I also made telephone calls for Super Sunday.”

Special visitors to Super Sunday activities included a group of six Israeli educators from Nahariya, here as part of the UJA’s Partnership 2000 Program. They were escorted by UJA coordinators Pamela Ennis and Machla Shaffer.

The week-long visit of the Nahariya educators will include visits to 15 local day and congregational schools, meetings with their “twinning partners,” teaching classes, as well as many other activities. Local educators will visit Nahariya for 10 days in the summer.

Super Sunday callers were of all ages. George Hantgan, a former Englewood resident, was the oldest. “I’m 93,” he said, “and this is my 58th year making calls for the UJA. I want to continue for at least a few more years.”

Leslie Felner did a “triple mitzvah” at Super Sunday. In addition to donating blood to Community Blood Services, she placed her name on the bone marrow registry and made telephone calls for donations to the federation.

Youngsters making calls included cousins Jessica Goldstein of Ramsey and Shira Goldstein of Bergenfield, both 16, who represented the Bergen County High School of Jewish Studies. The youngest may have been was Emma Schwartz, 11, of Fair Lawn, who represented the Jewish Youth Encounter Program in Teaneck. She served as a “runner,” picking up pledge cards.

Pledges continue to be taken at (201) 820-3900.


U.S., Israeli educational partners come together to teach and to learn

When six educators from Nahariya came to town last week — teaching lessons about Chanukah (and, in two cases, math and geography) in each of six Bergen County day schools and 10 congregational schools — they shared their excitement and special skills with more than a thousand students.

Local educators were equally inspired, said Pamela Ennis, education coordinator of Partnership 2000 for UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey. The project’s twinning program connects local Jewish schools with their counterparts in Nahariya.

“Our schools are just grateful that the program exists,” said Ennis. “The feedback has been unbelievable, especially from congregational schools. It’s a way to tie their students to modern Israel. “

Through educational collaborations such as letter, project, and bulletin board exchanges, Web-conferencing, and blogging, the five-year-old program has “made Israel relevant, real, and exciting for our students in a way that movies, stories, or books never could.”

A typical year for the program includes three exchanges, said Ennis, with educators from Nahariya coming here in the fall and northern New Jersey teachers visiting Israeli schools in the spring. The Israel Teachable Moments program — which brings 10 local educators to Israel during the summer — creates close relationships between teachers and “gives all the teachers a knowledge base [enabling them] to see things in Israel through educational eyes.”

Ennis paraphrased a local congregational principal, who told her that “kids generally think of Israel as Abraham and camels, or as a place where war happens. This kind of connection, getting to know and see kids the same ages, shows them a modern, thriving community. It helps them attach to Israel.”

In addition to teaching, the six Israeli teachers and principals who came to Bergen County Dec. 3 to 10 joined northern New Jersey educators at a professional development program at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. Led by community shaliach Stuart Levy, the morning focused on interpreting the relationship between Israel and world Jewish communities. Local families provided home hospitality for the Israelis on Shabbat.

Ennis said the week’s activities — which included a tour of local synagogues and culminated in a reception for all Partnership educators at the home of Glen Rock Jewish Center Principal Rachel Blumenstyk — included two videoconferences, one at Englewood’s Moriah School and one at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley in Woodcliff Lake. The conferences, linking Israeli and American schools in a joint Chanukah celebration, reflect the increased use of technology in the program, she said.

Robin Wexler, associate principal at Moriah, called the videoconference based at that school a “trivia, math, Chanukah celebration — unbelievably exciting.” She pointed out that Israeli students returned to their school at 5 p.m., their time, to participate in the event.

Ennis said that, for the first time, the visiting Israeli educators also participated in Super Sunday, making phone calls to local Israelis. “It was an experiment and it was very successful,” said Ennis. “It helped the Israeli teachers gain an understanding of what we do to raise money for these programs, and it made them feel connected to the community.”

According to Wexler, her students had so much fun in the classes led by the Israeli teachers, “they didn’t realize they were learning.”

She said that Efrat Saar, a fourth-grade teacher at Nahariya’s Rambam School, taught a Moriah math class and, later, led a professional development session for teachers on methodology in math education.

Polling her students afterward, Wexler received comments such as, “I thought that we were just playing a game. I didn’t realize that what Morah Efrat was working on was really math.” Said another student, after a videoconference, “I loved that we could talk to the children in Nahariya and work on the same activities. It was way better learning together than just being in class.”

In addition, said Wexler, who participated in the Israel Teachable Moments program this summer, one of her teachers — who attended Saar’s staff development workshop — wrote later that “it was fantastic being able to see the way math is taught in Israel, and the excitement on all of the teachers’ faces being able to bring this directly back to our kids.”

Wexler said Moriah has been making good use of its videoconferencing equipment, allowing her students to take part in Hebrew language lessons in Israel with a teacher who had worked for four years at the Englewood school.

“We use the equipment every day,” she said. “Technology is taking off in leaps and bounds. It broadens the expanse of our students’ education.”

Wexler is also working with teachers in Nahariya to create problem-solving math activities for the two schools.

“We send solutions back and forth,” she said.

She noted that when Saar taught the fourth-grade class at Moriah, she brought with her a scrapbook of math games in Hebrew and English, prepared in Israel.

“As our kids get new skills, they’ll be able to play the games,” said Wexler. In addition, she noted, the Moriah and Rambam schools will start teleconferencing chess games. She said that Saar, who brought the school “a beautiful marble chess set” from Israel, played a game with the Englewood chess club.

Wexler said that during their visit, the Israeli teachers also watched Moriah students present a Chumash play in Hebrew and were given student projects to bring back to Israeli third- and fourth-graders.

“We’re hoping to continue the partnership,” she said. “I love the interdisciplinary nature” of the program, integrating “different subjects and different media, in both Judaic and secular studies.”

“Obviously, attempting to create and foster meaningful bonds between people who live 6,000 miles apart is no easy task,” reads UJA-NNJ publicity for the P2K program. “However, with five years of experience under our belts, we are now able to report that it is possible, and when it works, the results are striking.”


Jewish agencies team up to offer internships

Even as the economy slowly recovers, many recent college grads are finding themselves unable to land jobs and are increasingly returning to the area to live at home.

UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, Jewish Family Service of Bergen County, and Jewish Family Service of North Jersey are teaming up to create an internship program to help these young adults through this transition from college to the working world.

The idea, said Rabbi Ely Allen, director of Hillel of North Jersey, part of UJA-NNJ, is to place these recent grads in programs in or related to their fields that could lead to permanent jobs.

“We’re going to be finding young people who have just graduated who could use something to do,” he said.

“Several months ago the JCC recognized that there was a whole group of people in our community that we never catered to — the post-college age group,” said Judi Nahary, director of Children & Teen Services at the JCC. “We’ve never provided programming for that age group because they never lived locally.”

Recent college graduates tend to move to New York City or other hubs but typically do not return to their hometowns — until a bad economy began limiting job opportunities for recent grads, Nahary explained.

“They’ve never been part of our community, and this was an opportunity for us to cater to them,” she said.

The internship network doesn’t have a name yet, but that is expected soon, along with a Website, according to Nahary. She said she hopes the database would be up and running within the next few weeks and people could then sign up for internships.

To date, internships have been arranged with the JCC, UJA-NNJ, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in Englewood Cliffs, and Rampage/ECI in New York. Other programs are in the works as well, said Esther Mazor, director of Adult Services at the JCC.

Allen would like to see the internship network be the first step in reaching out to recent college grads. The Jewish communal world outside of major urban areas has done little for this age group, according to the rabbi. The federation’s Young Leadership Division, which shut down two years ago, was mainly a fund-raising tool rather than a social group, and nothing has taken its place, he added.

“Ultimately, there’s not too much for people in their 20s and early 30s to be doing around here,” he said. “We hope we can create a network for young Jewish people that can be a network not only for people to find employment, but … feel part of the Jewish community.”

Allen has looked to such programs as Moishe House — a national program that provides subsidized housing for Jews who run programs for other Jewish young adults — as an example of what’s missing in the area. The federation’s new youth emissary, Niva Kerzner, is looking to such organizations as Birthright Next, a follow-up to the popular Birthright Israel free trips, as a draw for college students and recent grads.

“We’re really missing this entire age group and we really need to do something to keep them in the Jewish community,” Allen said. “If we can identify people and have them socialize together and take it to the next level that would be amazing.”

For more information on the internship program, call Allen at (201) 820-3905.

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