April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Community Growth Incentive Program in Northern NJ Seeing Remarkable Results

Last year, the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, NJ, created the Bonim program in partnership with the surrounding communities of Livingston, Parsippany, Springfield and West Orange and the MetroWest JCC, as an incentive program to spur on community growth. The program offers up to $50,000 in incentives for people who move to the area, join a participating synagogue and enroll their child/children in JKHA/RKYHS. The school offers up to a $25,000 credit towards tuition, and participating area synagogues provide benefits of up to $12,500 for new member families that join, including discounts on membership dues, nursery school tuition, High Holiday seats, annual dinner, building fund obligations and more. The JCC Metrowest in West Orange, NJ, offers 50 percent off membership and significant day camp discounts for a total benefit of up to $15,000. The school is also working with local real estate agents and mortgage professionals in order to offer a comprehensive package for new families relocating to the area.

The school and communities have seen extraordinary results in just over a year since the program’s inception, with families moving to the area from the the Upper West Side, Riverdale, Staten Island, Israel, Montreal and South Africa. Recent successful Shabbatonim in Livingston and West Orange for prospective families are further evidence that the program is working, as more families ready themselves to move.

“For this current 2015-16 school year we welcomed eight new families to the school as part of the Bonim program, and at this point we anticipate 10 more families in the program enrolling for the 2016-17 school year,” commented Sandra Blank, director of admissions at JKHA/RKYHS. “We could not be more pleased to see so many families realizing all of the many benefits of receiving a first-rate education at JKHA/RKYHS and moving to one of our close-knit, vibrant feeder communities—precisely what the program was designed to accomplish.”

Over the past three weeks, two of the Bonim partner communities—AABJ&D and Ohr Torah in West Orange and Suburban Torah in Livingston—held Shabbatonim for families to check out their communities, with over 30 families coming to visit for Shabbat.

In West Orange, Congregation AABJ&D and Congregation Ohr Torah teamed up for the largest Discover West Orange Shabbaton ever. This annual event attracted 19 families from all over the tri-state area—all five boroughs of NYC were represented as well as NJ families currently living in Bergen, Essex and Middlesex counties. Both shuls held Carlebach-style Kabbalat Shabbat programs to kick off the Shabbaton with extra ruach. For Shabbat lunch, the guests and their hosts were joined by many other shul families, as well as West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi and Councilwoman Susan McCartney, for a 250-person lunch at Congregation AABJ&D. After a Shabbat Shmooze in the park with the rabbis—Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler and Rabbi Yosef Sharbat from AABJ&D and Rabbi Marc Spivak from Ohr Torah—the Shabbaton shifted to Ohr Torah for a special family Mincha and seudah shlishit. On Motzei Shabbat, seven of the guest couples stayed and joined over 100 community members at a Men’s Club Casino Night and Wine Tasting at AABJ&D.

“It was a special weekend for the West Orange community and for our guests,” commented Andrew Yolin, co-chair of the West Orange community growth committee. “We are thrilled that many of those who came to visit can now be seen throughout town on Sundays looking for houses!”

At the Synagogue of the Suburban Torah in Livingston, over a dozen families came for Shabbat as prospective families. The attendees ranged from couples just starting out and young families, to those who came with several school-aged children, eager to send them to JKHA. Geographically, they visited Livingston from the Upper West Side, Queens and other towns throughout New Jersey. After spending Shabbat at members’ homes and enjoying meals with various community members, the visitors spent the afternoon at a community dessert at the shul—as the social hall was teeming with children enjoying special programming for them—followed by a seudah shlishit.

“Since the beginning of the Bonim program, Suburban Torah has welcomed eight new families as part of the program that have moved to our community, and we are excited for the new additions who are currently looking to move,” commented Celine Leeds, co-chair of the Livingston community growth committee. “These families were attracted to the warmth and diversity of our close-knit community as well as their desire to have their children attend JKHA/RKYHS, our community’s crown jewel for a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school education.”

For more information about the Bonim program and enrolling your children in JKHA/RKYHS, please contact Sandra Blank, Director of Admissions, at [email protected], 862-437-8050 or www.jkha.org/affordability.

To learn all that is going on in West Orange, visit discoverwestorange.com or email [email protected].

Visit www.suburbantorah.org to learn all about Livingston.

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