Friday, 21 September 2012 00:00
“L’Dor Vador” in Hebrew means “From Generation to Generation.” Now, for the Jewish Congregation of Brookville (JCB), the passing of Jewish traditions through the generations will now take place at the Jericho Jewish Center (JJC) located at 430 North Broadway in Jericho. As the result of a partnership in faith forged between the JJC and JCB, the two congregations on the North Shore have created an innovative model for Jewish observance and community building.
The JJC is a conservative congregation of 300 families that was established in 1955, with a large, attractive and underutilized building in Jericho. The JCB is a reform congregation of 150 families that was established in 1997 by a group of 10 families in search of a place to hold High Holiday services. Friends and neighbors at the Brookville Reformed Church came to the assistance of the JCB by offering them the use of their facility. This act of kindness allowed the JCB to grow and flourish, which eventually led to the JCB outgrowing the facilities at the church. It was at this juncture that the JJC and the JCB began to explore the development of a creative, mutually beneficial partnership, steeped in fiscal responsibility, while addressing the evolving interests, needs and practices of their respective congregations. As a result of this partnership, each congregation will continue to be led by its own rabbi in separate religious services within the single facility, and they will come together for a number of programs and share administrative staffing and functions. The synagogues’ leaders believe this is the only partnership of its kind in New York.
The collaboration between the two congregations grew out of programs made possible by UJA-Federation of New York, under the direction of the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center (JCC) in East Hills. Jack Cohen, vice president of membership at the JJC, Jim Krantz, a board member of the JCB, and JCC leaders, including former executive director Susan Bender, assistant executive director Stuart Botwinick, and Peggy Jaeger, director of the Nassau County Connect to Care program at Sid Jacobson JCC, met to evaluate strategic opportunities to help support those affected by the economic crisis through the Connect to Care (C2C) initiative.
“With the trust and relationships concretized through our work together on C2C projects, we knew the time was right to talk about a partnership of some kind between our synagogues,” said Jim Krantz. Bender suggested the synagogues engage a team of consultants to help with planning and logistics. A generous grant from the UJA-Federation enabled the hiring of consultants to facilitate the process, establishment of goals and a timeline, and the management of communications.
“We had the right people in place from all three sides, the synagogues, the JCC, and the UJA-Federation,” said Steven Krauser, former president of the JJC. Erika Witover, chair of the Nassau County UJA-Federation C2C Consortium, Stuart Botwinick, assistant executive director of Sid Jacobson JCC, Peggy Jaeger, JJC president Philip Taubman, JCB co-presidents Bruce Cohen and Josh Werber and Rabbi Marvin Richardson (JJC) and Rabbi Steven Heneson Moskowitz (JCB) played instrumental roles in advancing the innovative partnership.
Steven Krauser added, “It’s not about religious differences. Our approaches and observances will not be compromised. We’ll be a place where Jews can come together and choose how they would like to observe, a place where even members of the same family can observe differently, yet be together under one roof. And we’ll have more people to participate on committees, attend events, functions, and celebrations. A true sense of synergy.”
The JCB is a vibrant synagogue and spiritual center where families can gather together to pray and learn, celebrate Shabbat and holidays and mark the rhythms of their lives. The congregation and its leaders are committed to offering an engaging and accessible environment to rekindle the joy of Jewish living and to rediscover the teachings of Torah to instill the beauty and wonder of the Jewish tradition in the hearts of modern Jews. One of the hallmarks of the synagogue is its commitment to the creative expression of Jewish traditions: combining ancient teachings with modern values.
Leading the JCB’s congregation is Rabbi Moskowitz, who began his tenure as rabbi in the fall of 1999. He is a devoted Jewish teacher, sharing his love of the Bible and Jewish philosophy. He is active in the education of the children in the congregation, offering a monthly rabbi’s class for each grade, studying the Torah portion with each bar/bat mitzvah and helping to oversee the religious school program.
In addition, singing and music is central to the expression of Jewish life at the JCB, and is led by the exquisite voice of its cantor, Talya Smilowitz, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance from Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music. To the added delight of the congregation, many JCB services feature the accompaniment of musicians who have appeared on Broadway, recorded albums and toured internationally with ensembles and orchestras.
Led by education director Kim Bertash, the JCB offers a robust religious school program built on the philosophy of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, “Only learning that is enjoyed is learned well.” Third- through seventh-graders meet one afternoon per week for two hours, and a continuing teen confirmation class meets once a month with the rabbi. Bar/bat mitzvah services may be held at the JJC (or off-site), and enjoy its on-site kosher kitchen and catering space to celebrate the occasion. The JCB also has an insightful and expanding adult education program, which encompasses myriad offerings, from an adult bat mitzvah class to Jewish cooking.
“We are very committed to the continued growth and enrichment of our congregation,” concluded Joseph DiMaggio, president of the JCB. “Whether providing a home to those that are actively connected to their Jewish heritage and spirituality or welcoming new, young families that wish to embrace and instill our rich traditions in their children for the future, the JCB is one of Long Island’s most dynamic centers of learning and worship.”