April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Young Israel of East Brunswick Welcomes Prospective Members

The Community Fair hosted by the Orthodox Union on November 24, was widely regarded as a tremendous benefit to all of its participants—the organizers, the community representatives inviting new residents and the families shopping for new, frum-friendly hometowns.

As reported by Pearl Markovitz in The Jewish Link (November 28), the OU’s seventh annual International Jewish Home and Job Location Fair attracted nearly 2,000 attendees and featured 63 communities, including 15 from New Jersey. According to the OU’s fair coordinator, Rebbetzin Judi Steinig, “Since our last fair in 2017, well over 250 families have relocated to communities that were showcased at our event,” so they knew the format of the event works.

One of the best ways to measure the impact of the 2019 Community Fair is to look at how one community capitalized on this opportunity. And one vibrant community that offers a great case study is the Young Israel of East Brunswick (YIEB).

YIEB characterizes itself on its Facebook page as “a hidden treasure in Central New Jersey,” with 220 member families who enjoy their “warm, friendly ‘one shul’ Orthodox community” that was founded in the mid-1970s. YIEB is easily accessible to a few local day schools in the area, kosher food in town and nearby and a mikvah in town.

YIEB is no stranger to the OU Community Fair and planned for the 2019 event way in advance.

“We had an eye on the 2019 OU Jewish Communities Fair for over a year, knowing from prior events the value of engaging face-to-face with the couples and families who could one day be our fellow congregants and neighbors,” said Jeffrey Taub, a board member of YIEB. “Young Israel has prospective members visit us year-round, but the bi-annual OU fair is a unique opportunity to meet a mass of people from all walks of life over six busy hours.”

“After an exciting but hectic 20-family prospective member shabbaton following the 2015 OU fair, we purposely aimed for smaller programs this year during which more intimate connections could be made between YIEB members and guests. Through contacts made at the 2019 OU fair, member outreach to family and friends, and even Facebook engagement, the Young Israel hosted a welcome weekend for five families on the Shabbat of February 7-8.”

The Young Israel put a lot of thought and effort into their welcome weekend.

As Taub reported, an active committee led by shul member Robyn Schneider worked out all the details and added a few flourishes. “Guests were provided with hospitality bags, hosted for all Shabbat meals as well as dessert at the rabbi’s home and greeted by the entire congregation Shabbat morning at a cholent and kugel kiddush after davening.”

YIEB’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Effy Unterman, took great pride in the welcome weekend. “I love sharing the warmth and joy of Shabbat at YIEB with friends and guests. It was a particular delight to meet and get to know the wonderful families who came to see our special community for themselves.”

“I also loved that the families were each at different stages in life, were looking for different qualities in a community and yet each was drawn to YIEB. That really reflects the diversity of our community and the range of people who call this their home. People looking for a community of kind, thoughtful, giving and welcoming individuals and families will find a warm and inviting home at YIEB.”

The sense that the weekend was a success was shared by the guests, as evidenced by comments from Chaya Gitlin, who currently lives with her husband Moishe and two young children in New York; the family attended the welcome weekend at YIEB with their children.

“We loved visiting the Young Israel and the community of East Brunswick,” said Chaya. “Everyone was so hospitable, warm and welcoming! So many people made a point to introduce themselves and to make us feel welcome. It’s beautiful to have found such a close-knit and kind community.”

Did the weekend meet all its objectives?

Preliminary reports point to a strong yes.

“Of our guests, two families indicated their desire to look for a home in East Brunswick, and one family had already been doing so,” said Taub. “According to Robyn, another family said the community was very friendly and they loved the peace and quiet of East Brunswick.”

Time will tell if the families make YIEB their home. But one thing is clear—YIEB really knows how to put out the red carpet.

By Harry Glazer�

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