June 21, 2024
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Ahavas Achim Learn-a-Thon Is This Sunday, March 14

Last year Congregation Ahavas Achim of Highland Park found a creative way to meaningfully engage synagogue members and supporters in a full day of Torah study, while also raising significant funds to support the shul in a match campaign. This year, the organizers added luster to the event by holding smaller online activities in the weeks before the learn-a-thon, to increase community engagement.

This year’s match campaign began on Wednesday night, March 3, with a musical performance by Seth Maza and a shiur by Alex Ostrin, both Ahavas Achim “alumni” studying abroad in Israel. The 11-day-long campaign also featured a virtual cooking show with Naomi Nachman, sponsored by Glatt 27 on Saturday night, March 6. Nachman, renowned celebrity kosher chef, cookbook author and influencer, presented gourmet Passover recipes for a full-course meal during a virtual cooking demo. The evening also featured a musical performance by Rob Taube of the Avi Maza Orchestra.

The main event, the 12-hour learn-a-thon, will be held this Sunday, March 14, with learning on a broad variety of topics and an impressive roster of speakers, including Rabbi JJ Schacter, Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Rabbi Menachem Penner of Yeshiva University, Nechama Price and Dr. Erica Brown, as well as local rabbis and Jewish leaders. Other presentations will range from a discussion about Jewish life in deployment by former Ahavas Achim youth director and current U.S. Army Chaplain Rabbi David Becker; a Q & A with Daniel Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai Brith International; and a talk about Jewish Cuba by Saul Berenthal, Jewish-Cuban historian.

This year the Torah Bowl team competition has been expanded beyond the immediate community to include teams from Teaneck, Atlanta, Baltimore and other locations, who will be competing for a $1,000 top prize.

Event co-chair Rob Haarburger noted that “the Congregation Ahavas Achim match campaign and learn-a-thon truly celebrates everything that makes our shul and community special. As we embark on this program for the second year, we are excited to once again come together as one to learn together and raise funds to allow our shul to continue to offer the incredible programming and support for which it is known.” He noted that other than the cooking demo, all sessions will be posted on the website for later (or repeat) viewing.

“We are looking to build on the huge success we had (fundraising) last year,” said Dovid Becker (no relation to the featured speaker), event co-chair. “Last year this was a new idea to have an event like this completely online and this year we are taking it to the next level. With top-notch speakers on a diverse range of Jewish topics, we are excited to bring the best programming we can for everyone to enjoy.”

The event organizers noted that the goal for this event is “to highlight the amazing pillar of Torah learning and Jewish values Ahavas Achim is to the Middlesex County area and beyond and to bring people together in a warm Torah environment.”

As Rabbi Steven Miodownik, rabbi of Ahavas Achim, stated, “We are so proud to present such an outstanding array of speakers and online events! With 12 hours like we have planned, it will be challenging to decide if and when to take a break from the action. To me, the learn-a-thon represents our perseverance by making something very positive emerge from a tough situation that eliminated in-person events. The use of technology allows us to reach people across the world and allow people across the world to reach us. It is an example of how we have learned a lot about ourselves and discovered strengths and talents we never recognized while nimbly creating days like this. I am grateful to Rob and Dovid and their team for shepherding this to its completion, and grateful to all our generous donors. I can’t wait to be part of it.”

While there is no cost to attend the learn-a-thon, donations of any amount are welcome to help support this important fundraiser. See https://thechesedfund.com/ahavasachim for more information and to donate.

To help plan your day, the full seminar schedule can be found at https://thechesedfund.com/ahavasachim. Use the same link to join the sessions live and to make a contribution.

The goal is to raise $60,000 in order to ensure that Congregation Ahavas Achim can continue to meet the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of all its members. Sponsorships for the event are available. For more information or to sponsor a portion of the event, please reach out to Rob Haarburger at [email protected].

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