Manhattan Jewish Experience Celebrated 18 Years of Accomplishments at Annual Dinner
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Manhattan Jewish Experience Celebrated 18 Years of Accomplishments at Annual Dinner

A record 500+ registered guests celebrated, Including Special Guests and Honorees Dana & Matthew Hiltzik, Leigh & Daniel Waxman, Emily & Andrew Weiss, Heather Conn, and Troy Valberg.

Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald Received Rabbinic Leadership Award at Annual Dinner for Prominent Work in Jewish Outreach Programs. Courtesy of Pako Dominguez
Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald Received Rabbinic Leadership Award at Annual Dinner for Prominent Work in Jewish Outreach Programs. Courtesy of Pako Dominguez

NEW YORK, NY (March 27, 2017) On Thursday March 23, Manhattan Jewish Experience (MJE) celebrated 18 years of successful Outreach at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Founded by Rabbi Mark Wildes in 1998, MJE has reconnected thousands of young men and women with Judaism and the Jewish community. 

MJE celebrated its accomplishments with a record number of over 500 registered guests. 

In his opening remarks, Rabbi Mark Wildes said “Eighteen years, chai, Jewish life. That’s what we’re celebrating tonight…We are here to celebrate the hundreds of children born to the 279 MJE couples who now attend Jewish Day Schools, the thousands of 20s and 30s, who over the last eighteen years have embraced Judaism in one way or another, the close to 50,000 attendees who have come to a Shabbat dinner at one of our three locations, the over 69,000 who have attended an MJE Torah class since we started back in 1998, the 161 fellows who have been in our advanced Jewish learning program, who devote 3 to 4 hours a week of Torah study, and the hundreds of others who have come on our retreats and our amazing trips to Israel. And we’re here tonight, not only to celebrate those impressive numbers, but to celebrate the relationships and the deep bonds that have developed and lasted for years. These have become the foundation for the very warm and vibrant community that we’ve all gotten used to at MJE.”

Credit: Pako Dominguez

Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald received the Rabbinic Leadership Award at the MJE Annual Dinner. As one of the leaders in the movement of Jewish return in America today, Rabbi Buchwald has pioneered and developed many of the most dramatic and effective Jewish engagement programs, through his National Jewish Outreach Programs (NJOP). 

“MJE is one of the most successful outreach/engagement centers, perhaps the most successful. You have taken Jewish engagement to a whole new level and we are so proud to be part of it,” said Rabbi Buchwald, addressing the crowd.  “I don’t know if you all saw the video of Rabbi Wildes walking up and down the streets of the Upper West Side in his leather jacket. He is by far America’s coolest rabbi. May you and all those present be blessed. Mazal Tov on 18 years of incredible accomplishments.”

The video Buchwald referenced is a “Saturday Night Fever” parody made by MJE to promote the Annual Dinner. It has been viewed over 23,000 times and shared over 2000 times via Israel Video Network (The Jewish Saturday Night Fever Rabbi That Has Got Everyone Talking).
Other notable MJE members honored that night included two couples serving as the guests of honor:  Dana Hiltzik, a speech pathologist and her husband, Matthew, the CEO and President of Hiltzik Strategies; and Leigh and Daniel Waxman, both lawyers who host MJE participants in their home and Emily & Andrew Weiss, who met at an MJE event were honored as couple of the year. Heather Conn, an English teacher at Information Technology High School and Troy Valberg, a software salesman at Bluecore, one of NYC’s fastest growing tech start-ups, were recognized for their participation as MJE students.

For more information, please visit

To view the videos screened as part of the dinner program, please watch this youtube playlist.

About Manhattan Jewish Experience (MJE)
Founded by Rabbi Mark N. Wildes in 1998, Manhattan Jewish Experience is a warm and open community serving over 10,000 NYC young professionals. Through social, cultural, spiritual and educational events, young men and women can explore Jewish life and meet new people. To learn more visit

About Rabbi Mark Wildes
Rabbi Mark Wildes is the Founder and Director of Manhattan Jewish Experience – a social, educational and spiritual events organization for Millennials. He was ordained by Yeshiva University. Before becoming a rabbi, he received a JD from the Cardozo School of Law and a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University. Since founding MJE, Rabbi Wildes has become one of America’s most inspirational and dynamic Jewish educators, actively blogging for The Times of Israel and Huffington Post, and running a YouTube channel. Rabbi Wildes, his wife Jill and children live on the Upper West Side where they maintain a warm and welcoming home for all.

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