Jewish Learning Experience of Bergen County (JLE) recently appointed a new director, Rabbi Justin Wexler. Raised in Teaneck, Rabbi Wexler studied at Yeshiva University and received his semicha from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). Rabbi Wexler also earned a BA from Yeshiva University in economics and currently teaches at SAR Middle School.
Founded in 1986, JLE is an adult outreach organization that aims to familiarize Jewish adults with Jewish tradition, heritage and Torah study. This is done primarily through weekly classes which demonstrate the relevance of Torah in everyday life. Since its inception, JLE has touched the lives of more than 5,000 unaffiliated families in and around Northern New Jersey.
“JLE is the only kiruv organization for Jewish adults in Bergen County,” said Rabbi Wexler. “Our local communities are flourishing with all different types of people, and we are excited to tap into that diversity.” JLE maintains an open door policy, welcoming anyone who wants to participate regardless of their age or background.
Weekly classes are based on content from the Torah which is explained in a way that relates to modern day life. On any given week there could be a 25-year-old and a 60-year-old in a class, each upholding a different connection to Judaism, yet both can engage in meaningful discussion. “We study the Torah with a unilateral and practical approach, making sure to cater to everyone in the room,” Rabbi Wexler explained.
Rabbi Wexler recently completed a series on the seven days of creation, likening each day to a practical quality or application. For example, the first day represents the creation of light. In the Torah, our forefather Avraham is referenced as light. The midrash explains that light expands to everyone around it. Similarly, Avraham lit up the way for all those he encountered, spreading kindness and compassion onto others. From here we learn the importance of kindness in our everyday life.
Upcoming classes will focus on the holiday of Passover and will analyze various traditions, laws and thoughts related to the Haggadah.
In addition to weekly classes, JLE hosts events around Jewish holidays and offers Shabbat and High Holiday explanatory services. JLE also provides outreach services such as home hospitality and one-on-one learning.
Rabbi Wexler is eager to welcome new faces to JLE. “This has been a cherished organization for the last 30 years and my hope is to revolutionize it even more moving forward.”
Weekly classes are held at Congregation Beth Aaron and Congregation Bnai Yeshurun. Excited to share his passion for Judaism, Rabbi Wexler encourages Jewish adults throughout Bergen County to stop by and be part of this vibrant learning experience. For more information, please visit www.JLE.org.
By Andrea Nissel