Hudson Jewish Community Forum

What’s Blue & White, and Is New All Over? : Bnai Jacob Music Fest Print E-mail
Written by Yael Israel   

(Jersey City, June 20, 2008). 

Hundreds of blue & white balloons filled the banquet hall at Bnai Jacob, floating above streaming pale ribbons, drizzling from ceiling-to-floor.  This was the magical backdrop to the Kabbalat Shabbat dinner - a musical festival held at Bnai Jacob on June 20th.  The services were led by Cantor Marsha Dubrow of Congregation Bnai Jacob in Jersey City.  She sang traditional Shabbat songs and Israeli classics including Hativka, the National Anthem.  The theme was the 60th Anniversary Salute to Israel.  The keyboard accompaniment was flawless.  “It was the most moving service I had ever heard”, remarked attendee Michelle Levine.

This was a magical summer evening complete with folk music, good food and wine, votive candles, Israeli flags and white & blue flowers.  Over 80 guests attended.  The event marks a milestone for Bnai Jacob; this is the largest group to attend a social event here in several years.  Accolades flowed freely, as some guests reminisced.  “This reminds me of the weddings and parties we used to have here years ago” said Betty Arenson, a long time member of Bnai Jacob.   Anita Olliviere another long-timer congregant echoed her remarks.  “We could have lots of guests and parties here again”.  Increasingly, there is a renewed optimism.     Connecting to a new future however will require change.  As one of the guests noted:  “Change is inevitable.  We need only to look to the New York Stock Exchange for a parallel.  Did you know that of the original Dow 30 stocks, only 1 survives today?  That is a  97% attrition rate.  We need an assertive outreach program.  It is essential to our survival”, said Jerry Levy another long time member of Bnai Jacob.    Indeed, outreach is important, especially if Bnai Jacob wants to connect to younger generations in the area.  But outreach is expensive.  It requires a specialized focus to raise funds in a variety of ways.    Event planning is only one aspect of fund raising.    Jane Canter, Co-President of Bnai Jacob points out.  “An important aspect is that every event should make money; not necessarily a lot but nothing should lose money. The members and the outside community must be taught to support these institutions financially at every turn or the synagogues will not be there when they are needed”.  One of the goals for this event was to tap into a new energy by extending invitations to the wider Jewish community.   The invited guests came mostly from Jersey City and Bayonne, including friends & family from the surrounding areas in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, some as far away as Pennsylvania and California.  Members of the HudsonJewish Board & Trustees from Hoboken, North Bergen, Jersey City and Bayonne, including Raylie Dunkel, Annette Hassell, Yael Israel, Michelle Levine, Alan Lemmon, Jessica Lemmon and Matt Meistrich, also attended.   Revitalizing Jewish community life in Hudson County has been the mission of HudsonJewish since it was founded in 2007. The event organizers for this Bnai Jacob event were Jane & Sid Canter, Min Natovitz, Lenore Berkowitz, co-Presidents and Pauline Danton of Bnai Jacob.   The mood is more hopeful that someday many new guests will fill the banquet hall.  As Yael Israel, member of Bnai Jacob and Hudson Jewish, Treasurer noted, “What a pretty sight it will be:  hundreds of blue & white balloons with hundreds of new guests”.  
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