November 21, 2014

On Tuesday, Nov. 25, at 10:30 a.m. there will be a dedication of a just-constructed playground at the Sussex Avenue Renew School, 307 Sussex Ave (just off First St. Newark exit of Route 280). This $750,000 project is a joint project of Congregation Ahavas Sholom, the Trust for Public Lands, and the Newark Public Schools. Led by the efforts of Leadership Newark Alum, Eric Freedman (Class of 2000), Ahavas Sholom raised more than one-half of the initial budget for the playground, thanks to a $375,000 matching grant from the New Jersey Green Acres program and a $75,000 grant from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey.  The Congregation then teamed up with the Trust for Public Lands, which raised the remaining funds for the project. According to President Eric Freedman, “The successful completion of the Sussex Ave School playground does not represent a single project or moment in time.  As we know, tikkun olam [“repairing the world’] is not a single event, but a way of life. The Congregation is committed to building more playgrounds in the future, as instructed by our shared tenets.”

In a news article featured in New Jersey Jewish News, Eric went on to say “We’re a small place. We’re not going to change the world. But [as Jews] we are taught that we may not be able to complete the task, but we’re absolutely required to begin it. Well, in Newark, everywhere you look, there’s an opportunity to do tzedaka (charity). We are responsible to lift up the downtrodden.” Throughout his time with Leadership Newark, Freedman always reflected these same values in every facet of the program. CEO Celia King recalls Eric expressing that the fellowship “made him realize the value of making sure his net was cast wide and far” to give him learning opportunities and a real chance to make a difference.” Leadership Newark would like to extend our sincerest congratulations on such a wonderful achievement!

For more details, please see the formal invitation here