May 26, 2024
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May 26, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

JCC MetroWest Joins Kushner Bonim Program

Livingston—The Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School is currently entering the fourth month of its innovative approach to stimulating growth in the school and surrounding communities, addressing middle income affordability and strengthening the school’s financial assistance program. The initiative has been met with excitement and tremendous support from community members and leaders, current and prospective school parents, local rabbis, faculty and participating institutions.

At the start, Sandra Blank, Director of Admissions and Community Relations at Kushner said, “We are excited to be opening doors to the school and community for new families through the Bonim Program, and we look forward to welcoming them.” According to Blank’s most recent comments, the school has been doing exactly that, and views this initiative as the gateway to a bright future for all involved parties.

To recap the Bonim Yesodot B’Atidenu Program (Building Foundations for Our Future), it is a community-wide partnership that is intended to grow and build the school’s feeder communities, thereby attracting more students to JKHA/RKYHS. Initially working in tandem with area synagogues, the program offers financial incentives for new families that move into the area, join a participating synagogue and enroll their child(ren) at JKHA/RKYHS. The school is offering up to a $25,000 credit towards new families’ yeshiva tuition, while the participating area synagogues are providing benefits for new member families, including discounts on membership, nursery school tuition, High Holiday seats, annual dinner costs, building fund obligations and more.

Currently, participating synagogues include Congregations AABJ&D and Ohr Torah in West Orange, Congregation Etz Chaim and Synagogue of the Suburban Torah in Livingston, Congregation Israel in Springfield and Shaya Ahavat Torah in Parsippany. The newest addition to the Bonim program is the JCC MetroWest. Its participation brings the total incentive value to new area families to potentially more than $50,000. The JCC incentives include 50 percent off JCC membership for the first five years (a value of $1,000 per year) and a $1,000 discount per child (up to two children) for five years at the JCC’s Camp Deeny Riback in Flanders.

“I am thrilled that the JCC MetroWest and JKHA are building a new partnership to create a stronger Jewish community. JKHA’s new Bonim program is a truly exciting initiative that will benefit the whole community throughout MetroWest. This is the just the beginning of creating new synergistic programs between the JCC and JKHA/RKYHS,” said Larry Rein, President of JCC MetroWest.

For families looking to move to this part of New Jersey, the program helps focus their search by providing financial incentives, while still allowing them to retain control over exactly which community best meets their family’s needs. Kushner is working closely with realtors and mortgage professionals to create partnerships that will help enhance the success of the program.

The initial impact of the program has been huge. Word of mouth and social media have generated tremendous exposure and helped bring in inquiries and visits to the school from families currently living as far away as South Africa, Montreal and Israel, and as close as Manhattan, Riverdale, Queens and Brooklyn. Compared to last year, inquiries have more than doubled—last May, Kushner had 59 inquiries, compared with 139 this year to date. In addition, applications to the incoming RKYHS freshman class have also doubled, and the school has enrolled its largest ninth-grade class in many years.

“Our stellar reputation for providing educational excellence and our unswerving commitment to Torah and its values have attracted many new families to inquire about JKHA/RKYHS and learn more about the scope of our inspiring educational program,” said JKHA/RKYHS Head of School Rabbi Eliezer Rubin.

Blank continued, “The response to our Bonim community growth incentive and our innovative Yesodot middle income affordability initiative has far exceeded our expectations in the initial interest shown. The feedback from our families who are inquiring about the programs has been overwhelmingly positive and the recognition of our school communities’ efforts to meet their needs has been incredibly rewarding!”

Blank believes that it is the quality of the education and Torah values at the school, coupled with this new initiative, that is attracting inquiring families in droves. “It is not one or the other,” stated Blank, “but the two together are a perfect storm.” Additionally, she believes it is the strong community effort that is attractive to out-of-town families looking for a new community to call home.

“Our approach is progressive and innovative,” she said. “The JCC component—finalized just last week—truly makes it a community-wide program. That is attractive to people.”

By Jill Kirsch

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