I personally enjoyed as many shiurim as I could that were offered by the Kaplans. I learned one-on-one with Sharona consistently, and was very much inspired by this sharp, intellectual, and clearly learned woman. JLIC Shabbat programming was my lifeline throughout college!
I still consult the Kaplans for many halachic questions I have, and when it comes to guidance, their combination of wisdom and ease of relating to students is stellar. My university experience, as well as my husband's (who also benefited from JLIC) was absolutely and infinitely improved by the Kaplan's presence. Without them my Jewish experience would be utterly lacking.
The Kaplans are phenomenal educators by virtue of how educated they are but, even more incredibly, is how incredibly positive, non-judgmental and easy to relate to they are. They are respectful and inclusive in a strong and diverse campus, which is is a true kiddush Hashem to watch.
The Kaplans' enthusiasm and experience bring any communal event to another level.
I know probably 10 times more about Jewish law than I did before and feel much more a part of the larger LA community than I did before my graduate school time at UCLA.
Sharona and Aryeh are open to students/community of all Jewish backgrounds and even non-Jews interested in Jewish practice/belief/history.
The Kaplans are beyond effective in their role on our campus, they are PHENOMENAL! Sharona and Rabbi Aryeh have built a flourishing, vibrant, stimulating, and warm religious community, transforming the campus from one where any student interested in exploring Judaism in a serious way had to self- start the opportunity, into a "place to be" full of learning, socializing, and warmth.
JLIC at UCLA builds lasting personal relationships, as proven by the number of marriages that have emerged from the small JLIC community and Jewish leaders cultivated at UCLA – so many individuals made life decisions based on their relationship with the Kaplans and their experience in JLIC.
The Kaplans are both always available to learn, in groups and one on one. They have created an open and non judgmental atmosphere in the UCLA community, making everyone feel comfortable in approaching them with any halachic and hashkafic questions as well as inviting everyone to join in Shabbat and holiday services. They are invested in the lives of their students and open their students to their own lives.
As a Hillel staff member, I consult with Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona, daily on Halacha and Jewish law infrastructure as a way for ME to be a better educator.
While there is a vast Jewish community in Los Angeles, it is difficult for students to get to the locations (La Brea, Pico, Westwood Kehilla), especially when they are not native to LA. The Kaplans are integral to helping students create their own stable religious community on campus while drawing from the local resources as needed.
With the introduction of JLIC, a serious Jewish identity became a pleasure instead of an absolute burden. JLIC has contributed to the ability to keep kosher on campus without having to subsist on only coffee and fresh fruit, it has created learning opportunities galore, a place to spend Shabbat and holidays without feeling totally alone, and JLIC has done all of this while maintaining a warm, friendly, fun, and cool place to hang out. I am personally amazed at how JLIC has transformed our campus.
JLI and the Kaplans are everything that a Jewish student could ever need or want and more. They are so amazing at what they do, they enhance our UCLA experience to the fullest!
With the Rabbi and Rebetzin Kaplan at UCLA, the Jewish atmosphere is greatly enhanced. Just their mere presence, has a profound positive effect and enhances the Orthodox environment. They are an ideal couple and family who symbolize what it is to be observant Jews. They are always available and more than happy to answer any specific halachic questions and encourage individual growth by offering classes and one on one learning.
Without JLIC there would be no community for orthodox students at UCLA. Rabbi Kaplan And Sharona Kaplan have created a wonderful and warm community to the great benefit of all of us.
The contribution the Kaplans make at UCLA is truly profound. They are extremely devoted to all the students and are always available to help each person learn Torah and grow.
Not only do students come to Hillel to hang out with other Jews, But because of JLIC they now come to listen to shiurim on a break between classes or just get some kosher food.
As a minority religious group on campus, it's really important to still cultivate a strong sense of community, and a lot of times that starts with the leaders. Rabbi Kaplan and Sharona have gone above and beyond to make our community feel booming with opportunities and life. They constantly work to bring in new students and make absolutely everyone feel welcome. There are programs available for every student, regardless of where they are on their religious journey. It's critical to have a warm, intellectual and spiritual community like this at a time in our lives when we're looking for a jewish home away from home.
Bottom line: without Aryeh and Sharona, the cohesion of the Orthodox community would not exist. They have defined what a true community is and means in a Jewish context. I can't say enough positive about how available, accessible and attuned they are to the students needs at UCLA.
JLIC is a fantastic addition that is able to bridge the expanse between the Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities.
Without JLI the only orthodox students at UCLA would be commuters.
Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan are two of the most kind-hearted, amazing individuals that I've had the pleasure of getting to know. In addition to making each and every student feel welcome, they tirelessly work to improve the Jewish experience for students at UCLA. Their sincere love for Torat Yisrael, Am Yisrael, and Medinat Yisrael is ever-present and is a model to us all. They've really made UCLA a place of Torah learning and growing closer to Judaism. I really can't thank JLIC enough.