Failing Forward

Rabbi Mark Wildes, Founder and Director of the Manhattan Jewish Experience, meets with young people who are regularly struggling with society’s idea of failure and what it means for who they are. What if our tradition offered a different interpretation? What would that mean for how you see the missteps of your life?

Rabbi Mark Wildes is the Founder and Director of Manhattan Jewish Experience (MJE), a highly successful Jewish outreach and educational program that engages and reconnects unaffiliated Jewish men and women in their 20’s/30’s with Judaism and the Jewish community. Rabbi Wildes earned a BA in Psychology from Yeshiva University, a Law Degree from the Cardozo School of Law, a Masters’ degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (Yeshiva University). After serving in rabbinic and outreach positions at Ohab Zedek and Kehilath Jeshurun and teaching at Ramaz and Stern College, Rabbi Wildes established MJE, dedicated to combating intermarriage and assimilation. In its 18 years of existence, MJE has successfully reconnected thousands of previously unaffiliated Jewish men and women with Judaism and the Jewish community, hundreds of whom are today living lives of Torah and mitzvot and sending their children to Yeshiva Day Schools. Operating from its three locations in the city, with a talented staff of 15 full-time professionals, MJE’s inspirational Shabbat Dinners, Beginners Services, Retreats, Classes, Holiday Events and Trips to Israel have touched the lives of thousands of young Jews and provided a venue through which 279 Jewish couples have married. Rabbi Wildes also teaches an outreach training seminar at RIETS, Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school. He and his wife Jill and their 4 children live on the Upper West Side where they maintain an open home for newcomers and friends alike.

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