It must be something in the water of West Orange. Congregation AABJ&D’s current youth directors, Rachel and David Schenkler are readying to make aliyah this January. Their immediate predecessors, Dovi and Daniella Shenkman, made aliyah in the summer of 2015.
Coincidence? Linda Laub, a co-chair of the youth department, thinks not. She was unsurprised when the couple first indicated their plans, commenting: “We have always sought out youth directors who exhibit a love for the people of Israel and the land of Israel. It makes sense that our professionals would choose to make this kind of commitment and we are thrilled that the youth of our shul can draw inspiration from them.”
Despite residing and working in West Orange for only a year and a half, the Schenklers have made a huge impact on the community. Eitan Hammerman, a fourth grader, believes that the programs run by the couple are “fun and entertaining, and I learn a lot from them.” Ruthie Isler, a seventh grader, particularly likes the Shabbat lunches they host, saying: “They always have really good desserts, and we play games and sing… What I like most about David and Rachel is that they are always smiling.”
AABJ&D has opened up a search for new part-time youth directors who will take up residence and begin working in early 2017. Though this is an unusual time of year for youth director hiring, Kenny Saibel, a co-chair of the search committee, believes that the congregation will find its match. “There are students graduating mid-year and young couples who are getting married in the fall who may be looking for a place to start out, who are searching for a warm and caring community and a home to call their own. If they love working with children, they will seek us out and we know they’ll be forever glad they did.” For more information on AABJ&D’s youth director search, please see the webpage at http://www.aabjd.org/youth.html.
By Pam Greenwood