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The Jewish Learning Experience Plans 33rd Annual Dinner

On Motzei Shabbat, December 8, 2018, The Jewish Learning Experience (JLE) of Bergen County will celebrate their 33rd anniversary with a dinner at Congregation Beth Aaron in Teaneck. Co-honorees will be Dr. Zachary and Devorah Merriam and Menachem and Miriam Shapiro, both of Teaneck.

The Merriams have lived in Teaneck for the past six years and have three children. Devorah is the daughter of JLE founding president Sam Kaplan. She is the personification of the apple not falling far from the tree. Devorah channels her tremendous energy into helping run the engine of the JLE alongside her father. She has been involved in the organization since her childhood, helping both her father and her mother, Marcia, in every capacity. Devorah works as a part-time dental hygienist. Zachary is an OB-GYN who, for the past 12 years, has been an asset to the organization by making himself available as another reliable family member, whether to lend a hand at events, support Devorah’s tireless work, or host guests in their home.

The Shapiros moved to Teaneck from Los Angeles just under three years ago and have four children. Menachem is an attorney in the New York office of the international law firm McDermott Will & Emory, LLP. Miriam teaches pre-k at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey. The Shapiros are known for their contagious energy and dedication to spreading Torah Judaism. This predisposed them to zero in on the JLE quickly upon their arrival in town. Menachem promptly became a board member.

“We’re both doers,” said Miriam. “We’re ba’alei teshuva through Chabad and we both have been taught the belief that if God puts you here it’s for a reason. Grab the moment, do as much as you can.”

By accepting the honor, Menachem hopes to “raise awareness for the organization and get more people involved. Have more people join the board and get involved in the activities.”

There was a noticeable void in local kiruv before the Jewish Learning Experience was founded in 1985. “The very first class we had had over 50 people in attendance,” said Kaplan. Today the explanatory High Holiday services attract over 150 people.

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 33rd anniversary dinner taking place at Congregation Beth Aaron, 950 Queen Anne Road in Teaneck, will begin at 7:45 p.m. Couvert is $250/couple and $125/single. To attend or for more information, please contact Rabbi Justin Wexler at 201-966-4498.

By Allyson Gur-Aryeh

 

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