April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Jewish Federation and Englewood’s Congregation Ahavath Torah Highlight CommUNITY

Eric Fingerhut, CEO, Jewish Federations of North America
(Credit: Wikipedia)

A wonderful event unfolded this past Shabbat Zachor—a collaboration between Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood and Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, igniting a weekend filled with spirituality, impact and importance.

Friday night buzzed with energy as community members of all ages and Federation leadership gathered for a special Kabbalat Shabbat and a late-night tisch featuring Zusha. Despite the chill outside, warmth radiated from the crowd throughout the night, complete with singing and dancing, creating an atmosphere of community and collaboration.

On Shabbat morning, a dedicated crowd braved the rain to participate in Zusha’s davening and hear Rabbi Chaim Poupko, senior rabbi of Ahavath Torah, engage in a thoughtful armchair conversation with Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America, and Jason Shames, CEO of Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. They discussed the many critical issues that Federation is urgently addressing, including supporting Israel. The Federation system has raised nearly $800 million for Israel since October 7 and continues to distribute those funds for trauma relief, medical supplies, support for relocated families, financial aid and so much more. They also discussed the ways Federation is fighting rising antisemitism through advocacy with elected officials, security training, educational programs for teens and strong relationships with law enforcement. They shared stories from recent missions to Israel and underscored the active role many members of the Modern Orthodox community have played at Federation, including holding key leadership roles and providing generous philanthropic support. They brought detail and clarity to help the community understand Federation’s significant impact on the community.

Following the presentation, the entire shul was invited to a gala kiddush, where congregants had the opportunity to engage with Federation leadership, including the current president, Dan Shlufman, and the incoming president, Daniel Herz. The exchange of ideas and perspectives further strengthened bonds.

Jason Shames, CEO, Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey (Credit: JFNNJ)

The event co-chairs were Marcy Cohen, a Federation board member and past executive board member of Ahavath Torah; and Lee Lasher, immediate past president and current board member of Federation and a past president of Ahavath Torah. They lent their expertise and leadership, ensuring the shabbaton’s success, and their dedication and commitment were evident in every aspect of the event, from planning to execution.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Attendees expressed gratitude for the enriching experience and inquired about getting involved, affirming the impact of genuine connection and meaningful conversation.

Ahavath Torah member Sarah Blum remarked, “What a powerful and impactful discussion from seasoned leaders who really understand the complexity of our local and national Jewish community. “

According to Lee Lasher, “Jewish Federation of NNJ Shabbat at Ahavath Torah was very special and a resounding success. I think it really showcased what Jewish Federation does and the many, many ways it deeply impacts our community, helps Israel, and builds unity and a strong Jewish community. Is there anything more important these days after Oct 7 and the surge of antisemitism and other challenges we face? We read in the beginning of the Megillah that the Jewish people are described as separate and scattered throughout the kingdom and that is when we are at our greatest peril. Esther implores Mordechai to gather all the Jewish people and the people heed this call. The acts we do on Purim – giving charity to the poor, giving gifts to others, coming together to read the story and being together for a festive meal – are all about building unity and community. This is a core value of Jewish Federation and how we can care for others, combat antisemitism and secure our community, strengthen Jewish identity, and advocate and support Israel and each other. Support for Federation is needed now more than ever, and I believe the Ahavath Torah community better understands this and will respond accordingly.”

The message was clear: Jewish Federation is integral to sustaining our community’s vibrancy. Through collaboration, dedication, and shared purpose, we can overcome any challenge and build a brighter future for generations to come.

 

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