After spending only eight months in chapter 11 bankruptcy, the Teaneck-based Union for Traditional Judaism and its educational arm, the Institute of Traditional Judaism (the Metivta), have escaped – and may become stronger than ever.
“We have emerged from bankruptcy with the knowledge that all of our creditors will receive 100 cents on the dollar,” declared Rabbi Ronald D. Price, executive vice president of the UTJ and dean of the institute. All the old vendors are also continuing to work with them.
Price expressed the hope that the UTJ, the Metivta, and the Morashah (the rabbinic fellowship), as they rebuild, “will find ourselves stronger and with greater potential than ever to teach our Torah.”
The cause of the bankruptcy in May of last year: Several key benefactors lowered their contributions, thanks to the recession, and the organization’s income plummeted by more than 40 percent.
In a chapter 11 bankruptcy, there are no limits on the debt – unlike a chapter 13 bankruptcy. The rate of successful chapter 11 reorganizations, however, is low, estimated at only 10 percent or less.
The UTJ is an outreach and educational organization, sometimes viewed as filling a space between Conservative and Orthodox Judaism. It has produced the “Taking the MTV Challenge-Media and Torah Values” curriculum (www.mtvchallenge.org), now in over 400 schools, synagogues, camps, and college campuses around the world. The program provides participants with a way to filter the messages of the electronic media without having to ban unwanted TV programs or movies.
“It is a good day for us,” said Rabbi Edward Gershfield, president of the UTJ. “We wondered if and when it would come. We have always tried to be models of ’emunah tzerufah veyosher da’at,’ a combination of faith and intellectual integrity. Having come through this experience knowing that everyone has been made whole financially gives us the emotional boost we need to enthusiastically go on, creating innovative ways to provide access to Jewish living and learning for the broader Jewish community.”
The UTJ’s popular Kosher Nexus website (www.koshernexus.org) deals lightly with the latest news in the world of kosher food, and it receives thousands of hits regularly.
With chapter 11 behind them, the UTJ leaders intend to ramp up development of all their outreach and educational programming, including the MTV Challenge, Kosher Nexus, and online learning.
“We believe that God has given us intellect to use in search of truth,” said Price. “All we can do in this world is use the tools God has given us to come closer to Him. If our programs and the lifestyle we try to exemplify help others in that task, we have succeeded.”
For more information about the UTj and its programs, visit www.utj.org or call (201) 801-0707, ext. 200.