This Shabbat, September 28, Young Israel of Fort Lee (YIFL) will host its annual “New Members” kiddush luncheon. The shul is proud to welcome 23 new singles and families who have moved to Fort Lee over the past year.
Rabbi Zev Goldberg, the rabbi of YIFL, is thrilled. “It is deeply gratifying to watch our community’s vibrant growth. I am so proud of the shul’s warm and inclusive environment. People are kind and welcoming and each new member is treasured.”
Although the new members have moved from a variety of areas, they share a number of similarities. They are drawn to the Young Israel, which offers daily minyanim, weekly classes and an array of other learning and social events. They are also attracted to Fort Lee’s unique real estate options and its proximity to NYC.
Herb Speiser, the YIFL president, is pleased to see the community continue to grow. “The secret is out,” he said. “When you are ready to downsize your home and upgrade your lifestyle, Fort Lee is the address.”
Gail and Jeremy Fingerman moved to Fort Lee with their two children, Zalman and Esther, ages 20 and 18, respectively. Previously, they had lived in Englewood for 14 years, where Jeremy was very involved in Congregation Ahavath Torah, serving on the board of directors for six years. However, Gail and Jeremy knew that their children would soon be moving out of the house and they were interested in simplifying their lifestyle. They are very pleased with their move and enjoy the many amenities their building offers, including indoor and outdoor pools and a well-equipped gym.
Gail runs her own women’s fashion consultancy, Your Style Source, and Jeremy continues as CEO of Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), which supports 300 nonprofit Jewish overnight and day camps across North America.
Susan and Same Joffe recently moved from Merrick, Long Island. Their children and grandchildren live in Englewood and Livingston, so Fort Lee’s location was ideal. While in Merrick, Sam and Susan were both active members of their congregation, Ohav Sholom. A retired math teacher, Sam was a regular participant in the morning and evening minyanim. Susan, an attorney and teacher, previously was on the full-time faculty at Hofstra Law School and now teaches at New York Law School.
“While it was emotional for us to leave Ohav Sholom after so many years, the Young Israel of Fort Lee has been warmly welcoming, and in the brief few months since we joined we already feel at home. We’ve been showered with invitations for Shabbat meals and hospitality. Rabbi Goldberg is a treasure; he is not only knowledgeable and intellectually stimulating, but a real mensch. Under his guidance, the synagogue is growing and is truly a place of spirituality, growth, learning and caring.”
The Fingermans and Joffes are not unique. Many of the other new families describe their transition to Fort Lee in similar terms.
Earlier this year, Alice and Dr. Burt Banner moved from Fair Lawn. Dr. Banner was a pediatrician in Staten Island and Alice worked as a nurse. After raising their children and becoming empty nesters, they knew it was time to downsize. “Fort Lee seemed like a logical choice. We are near our children and grandchildren without the headaches of owning a house. The apartments in Fort Lee can only be described as luxurious: large and spacious with gyms, pools and large helpful staff.”
The Banners are very pleased with their decision. “To say that we have been happy with our decision would be an understatement. We have been welcomed with genuine warmth and unceasing hospitality. We have been overwhelmed by the high caliber of the shiurim, lectures, talks, Sisterhood activities and multiple social opportunities that exist here. We credit much of the wonderful atmosphere we have found here to Rabbi Goldberg and to the rebbetzin, Dr. Michal. They have set a tone of warmth and inclusion unlike any other we have experienced. We must confess, however, that we have one major regret about our move to Fort Lee and that is that we didn’t do it sooner!”
When Essa and Allen Bruckheimer moved from Oceanside this year, they didn’t anticipate relying on the community as quickly as they did. Shortly after moving in, Essa’s brother passed away.
“I was so sad to be away from my friends in Florida and Long Island. Amazingly, I had nothing to worry about. The community and the rabbi were wonderful. Not only did people whom I never met contribute toward shiva meals, but they came to the shiva house and spent time with me. Some would not leave until another person came. How unique! Now that my husband and I have been in the community for several months, friendships have been made and meaningful davening has been enjoyed. Socially, you could not ask for more. There are dinners and lectures, learning sessions, sisterhood activities, and more.”
The kiddush luncheon that will take place this weekend is just one event of many in the coming weeks and months ahead. There are monthly lunch and learn programs scheduled with high caliber speakers as well as a series of movie nights featuring exciting films. As Rabbi Goldberg noted, “There is always something happening at shul. This year’s program calendar is already packed. Please God, next year we will be able to celebrate even further with continued spiritual and physical growth.”
If you would like to find out more information about the community, please contact YIFL at [email protected] or email Saul Landa at [email protected] Rabbi Zev Goldberg can be reached at [email protected].