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Friday, August 23, 2019

The Greater MetroWest community is excited to announce the launch of Kulanu, a new school dedicated to providing Torah education, spiritual programming and social opportunities to Jewish children in public school, as well as those who were formerly in yeshiva.

Located in the JCC of West Orange, Kulanu will meet twice a week and offer two tracks for students in elementary, middle school and high school. Kulanu aims to provide basic Torah learning and foster a spiritual connection to Judaism, helping kids live a committed Jewish lifestyle. Additionally, Kulanu offers Jewish kids a place outside of school to socialize with peers in a Jewish environment.

Moshe Glick, Kulanu co-chair, believes the JCC is an ideal location for this program. “We want to provide kids the opportunity to learn basic Judaism while at the same time offer a safe and fun space for socializing and interacting with other Jewish kids.” The JCC offers a vibrant environment with premier amenities which will be available to Kulanu students, he added.

Kulanu has hired a dynamic director, Binyamin Bromberg, who has worked in the academic arena, in both yeshiva and public school. Bromberg currently works part-time as program director for the YM-YWHA of Union, and as youth director at Congregation Israel of Springfield. Bromberg has taught Judaic studies, mathematics and science at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston and in the New York City public school system. He has also held teaching positions at various camps including Camp Lavi.

Bromberg graduated Yeshiva University (YU) with a BA in history. Prior to attending YU, he was an NCSY advisor and a behavioral assistant for special needs students. Originally from Philadelphia and currently living in Springfield, he loves to play music and enjoys a wide range of sports. Bromberg is excited to infuse his love of Torah, Judaism and education into the program and make Kulanu a place where kids feel welcome and enthusiastic about learning.

“I plan to create a vibrant and energetic environment, helping each child on their journey to find their unique niche in Judaism,” said Bromberg. “Our classes will be geared toward applying the meaningful messages of the Torah to daily Jewish life and fostering a strong spiritual connection to Judaism.”

Bromberg knew he wanted to work with kids from a very young age. “Beginning in first grade, once a week, I used to visit a friend of mine with a developmental disability with the goal of helping to teach him life skills while hanging out through art therapy and games,” Bromberg recalled. “This went on for several years and he became one of my best friends and inspired me to realize the skill set and love for the work that would one day become my profession.” He credits his friend Riffy Wolpert and the Wolpert family for helping him reach his goals and for where he is today.

Kulanu founders Ira Bloom, Moshe Glick and Larry Rein have been working with an educational advisory committee to assist in curriculum development compatible with specific age groups and backgrounds. Members of the committee are all seasoned educators who are adept in academic approach. They have also created an executive board to oversee fundraising responsibilities.

There is a large subset of Jewish kids in the greater MetroWest community that are not or who have never been in yeshiva for a variety of reasons which include financial constraints, social concerns, learning challenges or they are simply not interested in a full-time yeshiva education. Kulanu aims to ensure that those kids are connected to their Jewish identity and maintain Jewish social connections.

From its onset, Kulanu has gained support from local Orthodox rabbis, yeshivas and Jewish day schools as well as NCSY, The Friendship Circle and Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, who have all agreed to assist in developing this critical program. The number of children leaving yeshiva and Jewish day schools is unfortunately growing and expected to significantly increase. “It is a communal responsibility to ensure that these children continue to lead a Torah-observant lifestyle, which is only possible if we provide the social and educational infrastructure to do so,” said Glick.

Kulanu hopes to position itself as a hub for Jewish education. Feedback from students and parents will enable Kulanu to facilitate diverse opportunities. “The goal is to become a central clearinghouse so that we can provide the basic services that we think are important, but also the things others deem necessary,” explained Glick.

The open house will take place on August 7, from 7-8:30 p.m. at JCC MetroWest, 760 Northfield Avenue, West Orange. For more information or to register, please visit www.kulanumw.org.

By Andrea Nissel