Yeshivat Reishit

Spotlight on Our Alumni

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Michael Atlas ('97-'99)

Always known as a good athlete, Michael Atlas established his reputation for being a very considerate and sensitive guy even before stepping foot on campus. He was the first (and one of the few) in Reishit history to send a thank you card to the Reishit office after his interview. 

Michael officially joined the Reishit family in its fourth year as a talmid in the Old City from 1997-99.  While at Reishit, Michael was outstanding on the football team, and excelled even more in the Beit Midrash, where he could always be found learning late into the night. Michael continued his studies at Yeshiva University and then chose to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology at Argosy University, in Washington, D.C.  Presently, Michael, or “Dr. Mike,” as he is popularly known, is the Director of Student Support Services at Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC), and a member of their Guidance Department.

Michael is married to the former Zehava Machnikoff, who grew up in Great Neck, New York and received her BA in Psychology from Stern College.  Zehava also holds a Masters in Speech-Language Pathology from New York University, and provides speech services for children with special needs.  Michael and Zehava have been blessed with three beautiful daughters, Tsofia (6), Miriam (3 1/2), and Tehila (4 months).

Giving to Klal Yisrael has always been a part of the Atlas’ lives and even when Michael was hard at work towards his doctorate, they were pillars of Torah in Silver Spring, Maryland, where they resided.  Michael and Zehava initiated many shiurim for the young couples in their wonderful community and were also involved with Aish HaTorah, where Michael served as Baal Tefillah for the Yamim Noraim, a tradition he continues in his current shul.  After Michael completed his doctorate, the Atlases moved to Great Neck, NY, where they quickly became an integral part of that dynamic community. Currently Michael and Zehava serve as youth directors of the Great Neck Synagogue (GNS,) where they have the opportunity to be involved with many young people of different backgrounds, and to inspire them with the beauty of Judaism in an informal and experiential way.

Michael fondly recalls the template offered to him for Jewish learning at Reishit.  It was an atmosphere where one could always comfortably express his own point of view, and where the Rabbeim excelled at answering questions, alleviating concerns, and exuding warmth.  Reishit provided Michael with a strong dose of spirituality, specifically through the memorable Yamim Noraim experiences, and Friday night Carlebach-style davening. Michael says, “My inspirational years in Reishit helped shape my approach to religion, and have positively affected the way I connect with youth today.”
May Michael and Zehava and family continue giving to Klal Yisrael, helping and guiding our youth in many meaningful ways.

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