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Torah And Job Leads Go Hand In Hand At JELN

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He is a trial lawyer, a radio personality, a motivational speaker, an author of two newsletters and the founder of an organization dedicated to offering both Torah studies and professional networking opportunities to young Jewish men, but Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Bregman views himself as just “a nice guy with a good heart.”

There is no doubt that the 36 year old Rabbi Bregman is a “people person.”   Currently a resident of Lakewood’s West Gate community, Rabbi Bregman’s own varied life experiences give him the unique ability to connect with a wide array of people from all across the spectrum.

A baal teshuva who owns his own law firm, Rabbi Bregman is a graduate of the Emory University School of Law, who has also spent time doing medical research at Harvard, working on Capitol Hill, co-founding the Israel Children’s Fund and serving as a campus rabbi at both Columbia University and the University of Miami.

“I have a very broad professional background,” explained Rabbi Bregman. “I can work with anyone.”

With encouragement from his rabbinic advisor, Rabbi Aharon Walkin, Rabbi Bregman founded the Jewish Executive Learning Network in 2011, as a means of offering both Torah studies and professional networking opportunities to college students and Jewish men in their twenties and thirties.

What makes JELN truly one of a kind is Rabbi Bregman’s ability to leverage his professional contacts to help others and often enough, someone who is looking for help in the spiritual realm, may also find himself with an unexpected job lead.

“JELN was designed to be a platform to allow me to use my abilities to help yidden,” Rabbi Bregman told The Jewish Press.  “I like to share Torah and because of my own unique background, I have the ability to be there for everyone, no matter what level of help they need, from the people who have no background in learning at all, to the guys who went to serious yeshivos but find their own yiddishkeit has somehow fallen flat.”

The name JELN was carefully chosen to reflect the organization’s intended purpose.

“J is for Jewish,” explained Rabbi Bregman.  “We are here to help our fellow Jew and while we deal with men, we have had women reaching out to my wife as well.  E, Executive: we typically deal with young professionals, either in college, graduate school or in the work force.  L is for learning and I believe that through sincere limud hatorah we can uplift both others and ourselves.  N, networking, there are so many people who move to Lakewood, but they don’t know anyone and they get lost.  We have seen so often that people who come here to learn also need jobs and they become part of a larger extended family network.”

In addition to a variety of classes, JELN runs a variety of events including weekend retreats, trips and networking programs and Rabbi Bregman sends out a weekly D’var Torah email to his followers, which includes links to his many videos on TorahAnytime.com, on subjects as diverse as the weekly Torah portion, Jewish law, self-improvement, dating and marriage, mysticism and character development.  According to Rabbi Bregman, he is the third most listened to speaker on TorahAnytime.com, and he speaks weekly on JRoute radio.  Rabbi Bregman’s weekly classes, held on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, feature thirty minutes of dinner and networking before launching into an 8:00 p.m. discussion on the weekly parsha and his networking newsletter is not only chock full of job leads but also shines the spotlight on a JELN member who has been chosen as Executive of the Week, with a short interview segment.  While the JELN’s site, www.jeln.org, has links to many of Rabbi Bregman’s classes, a job board page gives access to the many open positions that people have brought to Rabbi Bregman’s attention.

While initially most of Rabbi Bregman’s job leads came from one close friend, he found that over time the leads just came rolling in on their own.

“Once people know I am a resource, suddenly you just get more and more of them,” said Rabbi Bregman, who found that his network of professional young men opened him up to another kind of query as well.  “Since I deal exclusively with guys and since the vast majority are professionals, we are quite the address for shidduch inquiries.”

Rabbi Bregman finds that his twin goals of Torah and networking often feed into each other.

“I have had kids who want to spend a few weeks in Israel but their first responsibility is to build their resumes by landing a summer internship,” said Rabbi Bregman.  “I speak to the kids and ask them if they will agree to spend those few weeks in a yeshiva in Israel if I can get them a summer job.  I get in touch with one of my professional contacts and offer them a free summer intern.  They get free help so they are happy.  The parents are happy that their son has that important internship to add to his resume.  The kid is happy because he gets to go to Israel and, quite often, once they spend those few weeks in a yeshiva, they get turned on to yiddishkeit. It is a win win situation for everyone.”

Joshua Kaller, an attorney who is licensed to practice law in both New York and Florida, is one of Rabbi Bregman’s success stories.

“I was doing data aggregation for the Washington DC based Gather the Jews, when Rabbi Bregman contacted us to do a shiur,” said Kaller.  “That was the key moment in my life when things changed.”

With Rabbi Bregman’s infectious personality and enthusiasm, Kaller found himself drawn in and he relocated twice, first with a six month stint in Lakewood, then with another six months in Flatbush.

“I became more exposed to yiddishkeit which until then had been more like the exterior of my life,” explained Kaller.  “Now it is the marrow of my existence and every day is about growth.”

Kaller went on to spend a year in Machon Shlomo in Jerusalem, and after a six week visit back to America this summer, is ready to board a plane back to Israel for another year at Machon Shlomo, where he will also keep up his duties as assistant director of the JELN.  He credits Rabbi Bregman for his ability to nimbly balance his commitment to the Torah world with his professional life as an attorney.

“He has a sense of vitality that invigorates the Jewish world and is a paragon model in his personal life,” observed Kaller.

For Rabbi Bregman, juggling the many different facets that comprise his life is just part of who he is and what he does.

“At the end of the day, I am just a nice yid, who likes to teach and be of benefit to people. I like to learn.  I like to write. I like to say shiurim and I like to help people in any way I can. I am almost like a professional developer of Jewish male potential on all fronts.”

To find out more about the JELN, contact Rabbi Bregman at director@JELN.org.

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