May 9, 2024
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May 9, 2024
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Highland Park’s Ahavas Achim Set to Welcome Young Couples to Shabbaton, May 17-19

2023 Shabbaton gift for guests.

A Middlesex County shul that is becoming a magnet for young couples is poised to hold their second annual Shabbaton to showcase their community.

Congregation Ahavas Achim of Highland Park, New Jersey is known for attracting and engaging young couples, with two young dads serving as vice presidents and a third preparing to assume the role of shul president this summer. The shul holds young couples’ Shabbat lunches every few months, which regularly brings in dozens of attendees.

The shul’s previous shabbaton for young couples, in March 2023, attracted 20 couples who were considering moving to the community. Of them, nearly a third have already relocated to Highland Park or are in the process of doing so. One of the shabbaton’s planners, Rob Haarburger, noted that 20 additional young families visited the community for Shabbat at various points in the last year.

Ben and Bat-Chen Kaplan

The Ahavas Achim 2024 Prospective Family Shabbaton, set for Friday-Sunday, May 17-19, will feature Friday night dinners in hosts’ homes; a special kiddush after davening sponsored by the shabbaton followed by a young families’ community luncheon in the shul; greetings and remarks by the shul’s rav, Rabbi Steven Miodownik and an ice breaker; youth activities in the afternoon; a Shalos Seudos at the shul, and a Motzei Shabbat trivia night event.

JJ Laufer/Century 21 Realty of Highland Park, which is cosponsoring the Shabbaton, will offer community tours to interested families on Sunday morning.

Ten couples have already registered for the May Shabbaton and others are anticipated.

Haarburger notes that 14 young family members in the shul are involved in planning the shabbaton, which reflects the passion many young couples have for Ahavas Achim.

Ahavas Achim Shabbaton trivia night,
March 2023.

Haarburger pointed out five facets of the Highland Park/Edison community that make it particularly appealing to young couples:

  • The community is extremely hashkafically diverse, with eight frum synagogues within easy walking distance—a shul for everyone.
  • A wide variety of home/apartment sizes, at lower prices than many other major Jewish communities in New Jersey.
  • School choices locally or within an hour’s drive to best fit your children’s needs.
  • The community is conveniently located to both New York, North Jersey, Lakewood and Philadelphia.
  • A wealth of “in-town” amenities, such as mikvahs, restaurants, a kosher grocery store and more, with an “out-of-town” feel.

One of the six young couples who has already moved to Highland Park since the last shabbaton at Ahavas Achim is very happy. Ben Kaplan, who moved to the area with his wife, Bat-Chen and their children Zoey and Yedidya, shared with The Jewish Link: “The Highland Park/Edison community exudes warmth. It has the out-of-town feel while supporting the infrastructure of a metropolitan Jewish community. And we see the kindness of the community in the individual families who welcomed us with open arms. We were lucky to be invited to the prospective members’ lunch last year and even more fortunate to be a part of the community today.”

Congregation Ahavas Achim.

To register to attend the Prospective Family Shabbaton at Congregation Ahavas Achim, see: For more information, send email to [email protected]. The shabbaton is also cosponsored by the Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva of Edison (RPRY).

Harry Glazer is The Middlesex County editor of The Jewish Link. He can be reached at [email protected] and he welcomes feedback.

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