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JLE Founder to Give Yahrzeit Shiur For Aish’s Rav Noach Weinberg, zt”l

Sam Kaplan and wife, Marsha, have been Teaneck residents for the past 42 years. Between davening at Beth Aaron, Shaare Tefila and Chabad, and this year, the Trafalgar Minyan, they have come to know a great many Teaneckers.

In 1985, the Kaplans and two friends now residing in Israel, Jeff Glazer and Aaron Mandelbaum, realized there was a “need and a niche” for bringing local Jews closer to Judaism. Thus the Jewish Learning Experience (JLE) was born, and Sam Kaplan became its president. During the course of the next 35 years, Kaplan estimates that over 10,000 people were influenced by the outreach of this grassroots organization.

Serving as directors were local rabbis, including Rabbi Michael Taubes, followed by Rabbi Steven Prebor and Rabbi Boruch Price (both now residents of Israel), Rabbi David Pietruszka and, currently, Rabbi Justin Wexler.

Shabbat and Yom Tov services as well as the many shiurim and classes over the years were conducted within local shuls and schools including most recently Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, which graciously hosted this year’s unusual Yomim Noraim services.

For Kaplan, the phrase best describing the accomplishments of JLE all these years is “hakarat hatov,” gratitude for its many organizers, volunteers and participants. This hakarat hatov also reverts back to the momentous 1987 visit to Teaneck by Rav Noach Weinberg, zt”l, and yibadel l’chaim, Rav Hershel Schachter, who addressed the JLE for the first time. It was that occasion, which attracted over 600 participants and lasted over two hours, that launched the successful run of the organization to this day.

At that presentation, Rav Noach, in his inimitable way, prevailed upon his audience to come closer to their cultural heritage. Through his unique Discovery Seminar launched in 1985, Rav Noach spoke to audiences throughout the world, totaling hundreds of thousands of people. For Kaplan, then only 32 years old, Rav Noach and Rav Schachter would become his lifelong guides and mentors in his lifetime work in kiruv. Rav Noach addressed the JLE community several times during his trips to the U.S.

This year marks the 12th yahrzeit of the petira of Rav Noach, zt”l. For Kaplan, it is a time to recreate for the Teaneck and wider audiences the great impact that Rav Noach had upon the Modern ba’al teshuva movement.

Born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1930 to Rav Yitzchak Mattisyahu Weinberg, a grandson of the first Slonimer Rebbe Avraham Weinberg, Rav Noach studied at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn and Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore where he received semicha. He completed his undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University and graduate studies at Loyola Graduate School.

As a young man in 1953, Weinberg traveled to Israel to consult with the great sage of the generation, the Chazon Ish, about the need to counter the threat of assimilation attacking the Jewish world. Unfortunately, the Chazon Ish passed away before his visit. Undeterred in his determination, Rav Noach established the first yeshiva to provide Orthodox Jewish outreach in Jerusalem, which in 1970 became the noted Ohr Sameach. Soon realizing that the dire times called for an army of “kiruv soldiers” to go out into communities worldwide to try to stem the plague of assimilation, he created Aish Hatorah with that mission in 1974. Rav Noach’s Aish Hatorah now operates 27 full-time branches on five continents, with 100,000 people attending Aish Hatorah programs annually.

Rav Noach Weinberg passed away on February 9, 2009, 11 Shevat, at the age of 87. He left behind his wife, Denah; 12 children; and over 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Kaplan will be presenting the yahrzeit shiur on behalf of his beloved “Rebbe” on Sunday night, January 31. In honoring the memory of his mentor, Kaplan will be speaking about the “laws and spirit of outreach.” He hopes to convey kiruv stories from his over 35 years as president of JLE. He will review the sources for the mitzvah of kiruv as well as the individual responsibility to help one’s fellow Jews spiritually. He hopes to convey the spirit of hakarat hatov, which has permeated his work on behalf of JLE for these many years.

The community is invited to participate in “Teachings and Stories Commemorating the 12th Yahrzeit of Rav Noach Weinberg,” presented by Sam Kaplan, founder and president of JLE,on Sunday, January 31, at 8 p.m. Zoom ID: 305 125 2715, Password:JLE

By Pearl Markovitz

 

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