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

Northern New Jersey Well Represented at OU Community Fair

The OU Jewish Communities Fair is taking place on Sunday, April 26, at Metropolitan West, a special-event venue located at 639 West 46th Street, New York, N.Y. The free event runs from 12–6 p.m. Pre-registration is encouraged.

For those who are unfamiliar with the fair, its purpose is twofold, according to Hannah Farkas. Farkas is the OU’s assistant director of Synagogue and Community Services and the coordinator of the fair. “For communities, it’s an opportunity to grow and look for people who may want to join them. For people attending the fair, it’s an opportunity to learn about communities that are beyond New York City,” said Farkas.

This is the fifth fair since 2008. Each fair has featured more communities than the year before. Eleven communities were represented at the first fair, while this year’s total is an impressive 46. The communities are located throughout the United States and even in Israel. Six northern New Jersey communities will be represented: Elizabeth, Fair Lawn, Livingston, Paramus, Springfield, and West Orange.

Steven Winchester is the President of Congregation Ahavat Achim of Fair Lawn and leads the town’s delegation. “It’s an ideal opportunity to meet families who are looking for a new home and share with them details about the various Fair Lawn shuls, schools, housing, and surroundings,” he said. “Attendees can also get a taste of Fair Lawn via Zadies, our award-winning bakery, and other food establishments. We want to let people know that if they are looking for a warm, suburban environment where you can raise a family, become involved, and make a real difference, they will find themselves at home in the Fair Lawn community.”

Springfield has some exciting plans for its booth. “At our booth, prospective families will have the opportunity to meet with our Rabbi and Rebbetzin, Rav Chaim and Lea Marcus, as well as various community members to discuss what makes Springfield special to each of us,” delegation leader Ben Hoffer explains. The booth will feature both a multimedia and print presentation that the delegation hopes will give people enough of a glimpse into what Springfield is about so that they will want to see more. Hoffer adds, “Moving is a big decision. Therefore, the goal is to get people to spend a Shabbos in Springfield so they can experience it firsthand.”

Evan Galatz, chairman of the West Orange delegation, said, “We exhibited at the OU event two years ago and were very impressed with the number of people who showed up. We found it to be a great venue to showcase all the wonderful things that our community has to offer to Modern Orthodox families.”

Rabbi Elie Mischel, chairman of the Livingston delegation, believes the fair can help people learn about his community and what it has to offer. “The OU fair is an opportunity to get the word out about Livingston—a community with all of the amenities, but which is small enough so that our shul has a strong feeling of community. Our booth will show people how Orthodox life in Livingston is far more affordable than people realize. Most important of all, our booth will give people a chance to meet the warm and friendly people who live in our community, which, in the end of the day, is what matters most.”

Attendees come from Washington Heights, Upper West Side of Manhattan, Riverdale, Brooklyn, Teaneck, and Canada. There is some variety in demographics and religiosity. “The majority of attendees are in the 25–35 age range with children under the age of five,” said Farkas. “People also come looking for retirement communities, as well as those who are newly married.” She expects over 2000 people to attend the fair this year, which would make it the biggest one to date.

The fair is spread out over two floors. The first floor showcases communities located in the U.S. Upstairs is a lounge where attendees can have conversations with people from the communities. Representatives from the OU Job Board will also be at the fair. “They will check resumes and lead two networking events. The purpose is to allow people looking to relocate to meet others to discuss the challenges of relocating and talk to others who are currently relocating,” said Farkas. Nefesh B’Nefesh will also be at the fair (second floor), representing communities in Israel. They will run workshops about these communities and have professionals on hand who specialize in community, education, and employment issues.

Over 200 families have relocated after learning more about communities at the OU Jewish Communities Fair. So, get ready—you may be getting new neighbors. For more information about the fair, check out https://www.ou.org/fair/.

By Larry Bernstein

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