Sometimes the notion of the Jewish community of northern New Jersey feels very abstract.
We are but one corner of a metropolitan area. Our counties are but afterthoughts when weather maps plot the promise of life-disrupting, potentially historic blizzards.
And most of our institutions cover only a small slice of northern New Jersey. Eighty synagogues scattered across many towns divide us into different regional and denominational groups.
But together, as a community of tens of thousands, we are much richer, much stronger, than any of our components.
And we therefore are richer and stronger for programs that weave us together into one community.
This week we write about two such community-wide projects. On page 12, we report on the Sweet Taste of Torah study evening organized by the New Jersey Board of Rabbis. And on page 15, we discuss the Berrie Fellows Leadership Program, which offers participants both Jewish and management training. More than that, though, the Berrie Fellowship is community development in action.
The fellowship brings together 20 people – each a leader in his or her own local organization or synagogue – and builds a community of camaraderie and friendships that reaches across the county and spans the denominations. Having launched more than a decade ago, its earliest alumni are now leading institutions such as the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, a co-sponsor of the program along with the Russell Berrie Foundation.
At the same time it empowers people to step up to the challenge of leadership, it also encourages them to think about the larger Jewish community.
The Berrie program is recruiting its fourth group of fellows now. If you think you might want to step up to the challenge – or if you know someone who might be willing – you can nominate yourself or others at www.jfnnj.org/