MORE THAN 250 people came out to honor Larry Rein and the work of the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life at its annual Ignite the Light event on April 30 on the Aidekman campus in Whippany.
The event raised over $100,000 to support such programs as PJ Library, One Happy Camper NJ, and Iris Teen Tzedakah at the Partnership, the Jewish identity and education agency of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
Rein of West Orange has a long record of volunteer leadership that includes serving as the second president of the Partnership from 2009 to 2013, president of Ahawas Achim B’nai Jacob & David in West Orange, treasurer of Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled of MetroWest, and board member of JCC MetroWest. He is currently cochair of the Partnership’s Atidim campaign recognizing major donors.
Rein is senior vice president of program management at the IDT Corporation in Newark.
The dinner and dessert event included remarks by Partnership president Rabbi Amy Small and executive director Robert Lichtman and testimonials by community members who spoke about the impact of the Partnership’s programs on their children and families.
Laura Axler of Madison, a mother of two, said her youngsters received the free books sent out through the PJ Library program, inspiring her to organize a Hanukka party for close to 100 people.
Mother and son Lisa and Sam Epstein of Randolph spoke about his successful experience at Jewish summer camp following guidance from the Partnership’s One Happy Camper program. Sending her son to a Jewish camp, said Epstein, is “about the values that permeate every behavior every day,” with Sam adding that camp “helped build my growing Jewish identity in an organic way.”
Teens Ali Ruchman of Livingston and Shana Levine of Mountain Lakes spoke about the class they teach their peers using clips from popular TV shows to explain Jewish tradition for the J-TEEN Sunday Morning Learning Community. Shana said they “grew in wisdom” from a conversation they had, “a conversation rooted in Jewish knowledge that was waiting for thousands of years for us to explore.”
Amy Cooper of Milburn focused on the effectiveness of the Partnership’s interconnected programs to nurture children, including her daughter, as their Jewish identity develops.
Beth Cruz of Bloomfield told how her search for connections to Judaism led her to involve her young son in numerous activities offered by the Jewish Family Concierge in Montclair.