June 24, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 24, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

RPRY Partners With Shuls to Hold Prospective Family Shabbaton, May 13-15

Volunteer leaders at the Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison were considering creative ways to recruit new students by engaging with families not yet affiliated with the school. And they came up with an approach that not only benefits the school but also the broader Jewish community around it.

As described by Hannah Farkas, a vice president on RPRY’s board of governors who also chairs the school’s recruitment and retention efforts, volunteer teams at the school worked together to plan a Prospective Family Shabbaton, May 13-15, to attract young families from different areas in the New York-New Jersey area, and across the U.S., who are looking for affordable communities with plenty of Jewish amenities, where they can resettle to raise their kids.

Farkas, who works professionally as the director of donor engagement in the Department of Institutional Advancement at the Orthodox Union, stated that the weekend is designed to showcase not only the yeshiva but also the different shuls in the area. The RPRY Shabbaton planning committee’s concept is that offering one weekend where people who are “community shopping” can visit both the school and the local shuls is the best approach to attract new residents, thus serving the yeshiva and the shuls.

To advance this vision, the RPRY Shabbaton planning team—which now numbers close to 30 volunteers—reached out to all the observant shuls in East Brunswick, Edison and Highland Park, to enlist shul representatives to help host and welcome visitors to town that weekend. As of this report, four shuls—Congregation Ahavas Achim and Congregation Ohav Emeth in Highland Park, Congregation Ohr Torah in Edison, and the Young Israel of East Brunswick—have joined this effort as active partners. Each of the cosponsoring shuls is planning an activity on Shabbat to introduce themselves and welcome the visitors to the area.

“Ohr Torah is delighted to participate in the RPRY shabbaton and is looking forward to hosting guest families for this program,” said Riki Kreitman, Congregation Ohr Torah’s liaison for the Prospective Family Shabbaton. “We are excited to personally greet these families and welcome them warmly to the RPRY and Ohr Torah community. The rabbis and president of Ohr Torah welcome the opportunity to answer any questions these guests may have. Personally, as a graduate and proud parent of five successful RPRY graduates, I can personally attest to the strong education, midos and values that RPRY imparts.”

“Congregation Ohav Emeth is very pleased to be a part of RPRY’s creative plans for a Prospective Member Shabbaton, in May,” said Moshe Sheldon, Congregation Ohav Emeth’s liaison for the Prospective Family Shabbaton. “We look forward to supporting this initiative with an activity at our shul and to welcoming prospective residents to our warm and welcoming community.”

Farkas shared that the shabbaton will begin with a Toamecha Shabbos (“Taste of Shabbos”) activity at the Yeshiva that Friday afternoon, featuring Shabbos foods, singing and divrei Torah. The yeshiva’s new head of school, Rabbi Michael Ribalt, will participate in both the welcoming event on Friday and a shalosh seudot at the yeshiva on Shabbat afternoon. Shul events will be scheduled around those two “pillars” of the weekend.

“The decision to move to a new community is not an easy one and comes with a lot of questions,” said Farkas. “RPRY’s Recruitment Initiative wants to answer some of those questions, b’yachad. What makes Highland Park/Edison so special? Why should you want your child to be a part of RPRY’s family? A simple Google search or a video montage does not encapsulate what defines Highland Park/Edison, and does not do it justice. These pressing questions and more can better be answered in a visit to the community and experiencing the warmth and welcoming environment firsthand.”

“My husband Dovid and I moved here over three years ago, after living in Teaneck for six years, and we have been so, so pleasantly surprised by the hashkafic diversity, genuine warmth and positive energy of this community,” said Shuli Salhanick, a data analyst for a New York-based global hedge fund and chair of RPRY’s communal growth committee.

“We’ve also been bowled over by how much our daughters love, love, love their school and how much their elementary school teachers at RPRY are filled with passion for teaching the kids and for instilling a love of Judaism. For us, and for others we know here, RPRY’s Prospective Families Shabbat is about a lot more than just highlighting the school and the shuls; it’s about changing the perception of this community in other areas. The Highland Park/Edison Jewish community is an incredible gem and we want many more people to get a first hand look at this truly great place to live and raise a family.”

RPRY’s top leaders are very encouraged by the vision and hard work of the large leadership team that is putting together this innovative shabbaton.

“I’m so impressed with the dozens of dedicated volunteers who have developed, promoted and are planning the myriad logistical details for this incredible shabbaton,” said Tova Renna, president of the board of trustees of RPRY. “And I’m especially proud that RPRY is spearheading an effort that not only draws people to our school but also brings prospective community members into our shuls. This is a win-win event for the local Jewish community!”

For more information about the shabbaton and to register to attend, go to www.rpry.or  or email [email protected].

By Harry Glazer

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles