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Jewish Learning Experience to Hold 34th Dinner on Nov. 23

On motzei Shabbat, November 23, The Jewish Learning Experience (JLE) of Bergen County will celebrate its 34th anniversary with a dinner at Congregation Beth Aaron in Teaneck. Honorees will be Susie and Ze’ev Atlas and Danit and Garron Macklin, both of Teaneck.

The Atlas family has lived in Teaneck for 30 years and has three adult children. Susie is a teacher at Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey. Ze’ev, originally from Israel, is a computer programmer and works as a consultant at Lazard, the world’s leading financial advisory and asset management firm.

Susie Atlas reflected on this honor. “I love hosting for Shabbos and yontif, I love meeting people, I love sharing the Jewish experience,” she said. “It never dawned on me that we could be honored for doing something like this. But, if we can inspire other people to share the Jewish experience with others then we will have succeeded in accepting the honor.”

The Macklin family moved to Teaneck from New Orleans in 2000 where they first developed a love of outreach and community through their local Chabad. Danit has a doctorate degree in physical therapy with a focus on treating patients suffering from concussions and vestibular disorders, along with vertigo, dizziness and imbalance. Garron works professionally as an architect and supports JLE in every aspect available, whether it is through attending meetings, hosting guests for Shabbat and going to the events offered to the public. The Macklins have three children.

Like many honorees, the Atlases and the Macklins shy away from the attention. However, by allowing themselves to be highlighted in this way Garron Macklin believes it can also shed light on the goals of the organization.

“It’s an opportunity to show how you can be involved with an organization like the JLE,” he said. “The goal is to inspire other people to become involved with organizations they care about and to be active in other people’s lives, in the community, it’s about helping.”

The annual dinner is the most crucial event on the JLE calendar, and it helps the organization raise funds to run all of its programs. Lesser observant and inquiring Jews learn about their heritage through a variety of offerings, from weekly classes and high holiday services to celebrations for Purim, Sukkot, Chanukkah, Tu b’Shvat and so on. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur draw the largest numbers from those who are unaffiliated and have nowhere else to go. The annual dinner makes it possible to avoid turning Jews away due to an inability to pay for an event. Most events are subsidized to make them more accessible to the attendees, such as the Shabbat Project dinner on November 15.

Sam Kaplan of the JLE added that the organization will also need more budgeting room for its growing social media and Google advertising projects. He recalled stories of how the JLE has brought non-observant Jews back to the Torah.

“A couple I saw at our high holiday services told me their two children went from public school to NCSY to Yeshiva University and Stern College,” he said. “They spent a year learning in Israel and then both got married and both are Chassidic and living in Israel. This is a family we have worked with for the last 30 years.”

The JLE was founded as a grassroots, independent adult outreach organization. Its mission is to reacquaint Jewish adults with their religious heritage through classes demonstrating the relevance of the Torah in contemporary times, experiential programs and Shabbat and high holiday explanatory services. The JLE caters to individual needs, including home hospitality and one-on-one learning. Since its inception, the JLE has touched the lives of more than 5,000 unaffiliated families in Bergen County and beyond.

The 34th anniversary dinner will take place at Congregation Beth Aaron, 950 Queen Anne Road in Teaneck, and will begin at 7:45pm. Couvert is $250/couple and $125/single. To attend or for more information, please contact Rabbi Justin Wexler at 201-966-4498.

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