And the winners are...

Seventh graders from Sha’ar Communities. The untraditional educational program will begin offering programming to eighth graders and high school students, with the assistance of a grant from the Jewish federation.

Three local Jewish organizations will receive money for the first time from the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, now that they are able to submit funding proposals as part of the federation’s new program-based allocations process.

And at least two of the funded programs proposed by longstanding federation beneficiaries are new projects. Were it not for the federation’s funding, they might not be getting off the drawing board.


The Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey has more than 300 boxes of archival material in its space at the Barnert Medical Arts Complex in Paterson. The collection started 30 years ago. A $10,000 grant from the federation will enable the society to hire an archivist to begin sorting through it.


Sha’ar Communities, based in New Milford, received a $10,000 grant to expand its youth programming, including starting a program called Teens 2.0. Its rabbi, Adina Lewittes, describes Teens 2.0 as “hitting the refresh button on teen Jewish identity.”

The program will bring together Jewish teens with “Jewish leaders in all different sectors, in medicine, law, music, journalism, and more, and explore in a face-to-face way how Jewish identity informs the work that these Jewish leaders do out in the world,” Lewittes said.

“We’re trying to get into the conversation with kids about why their Jewish identity matters. We will create an environment that will combine in-depth discussion of informed Jewish texts and the living Jewish texts of these people out in the world.”

Sha’ar offers a new organizational model to try to connect what Lewittes describes as the area’s 50,000 Jews who are “not affiliated with synagogues, day schools, and JCCs.”


Sharsheret, the Teaneck-based organization dedicated to serving the concerns of Jewish women with breast cancer, received a $15,000 grant for its campus programming, which will teach Jewish young adults on New Jersey campuses peer education techniques for health care awareness. The program will help the students raise awareness of breast and ovarian cancer and encourage young men and women to research their family histories.


The Moriah School in Englewood received a $38,000 grant for a series of seminars that will train teachers in the use of technology in the classroom.

The seminars are planned for faculty at all the area’s day schools, with the federation highlighting the proposal’s collaboration between the different institutions.


The Jewish Family Service of North Jersey in Wayne received a $30,000 grant to place a social worker in area synagogues. The social worker who will be hired under the grant will rotate among Temple Beth Rishon in Wyckoff, Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, the Fair Lawn Jewish Center, and Congregation Shomrei Torah and Temple Beth Tikvah in Wayne.

Modeled on successful programs in New York, the program “will bring community-based services right to the synagogues,” said Leah Kaufman, Jewish Family Service’s executive director.

Having a social worker on rotation “makes the synagogue a more vibrant and inclusive community,” she said. “A lot of people hesitate to call the agency for services, but if you have somebody on site, they’ll be more willing.”

The social worker will be able to begin support groups within the synagogue for mourners, caregivers, parents of special needs children, and parents who need extra help learning to cope.

“The rabbis I met with are extremely enthused,” Kaufman said. “It transforms the synagogue into not only a place of worship, but a place where care is provided in a new and innovative way.”

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