ABOUT RABBI SOKOL & REBITZEN LAYLU
Rabbi Ronen Ariel Sokol was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the second of three brothers. When he was a young child, his family moved to Pittsburgh, PA where he grew up. He attended orthodox day schools and yeshivos his entire life. He studied in Israel in the great Diaspora Yeshiva under Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein. After studying in Israel for several years Rabbi Sokol earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Judaic Studies. He then moved to the West Coast in Oakland, CA, for a position in Kosher Supervision, where he gained an appreciation and love for West Coast culture. Eventually, he returned to Pittsburgh when he was ready to find a wife and build a Jewish home.
Rabbi Sokol is a natural at teaching. Upon returning to the Pittsburgh area, he took the initiative and established a Shabbat learning program under the auspices of Rabbi Yisroel Miller, the Rabbi of his synagogue. He began by giving a weekly class followed by Seudah Shlishit (the third Shabbat meal) to a handful of teenage boys. More and more boys joined the group and soon his Shabbat Group grew from several boys to several dozen - ranging from 14 to 21 years of age, from a variety of backgrounds – Yeshiva, Chabbad, Modern Orthodox, and unaffiliated- including Public School students with very limited Jewish education.
Rebitzen Laylu (Devorah) Sokol was raised in an Orthodox family, the seventh of nine children. Her father, Rabbi Tzvi Pruzansky, was a renowned Rabbi who was an active member of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood NJ, the largest Yeshiva outside of Israel. Rebitzen Laylu attended Bais Yaakov-style schools in Lakewood NJ, and Brooklyn, NY. Upon completing high school, Rebitzen Laylu attended the Computer Institute of Technology and graduated in the field of Internet Marketing with rankings in the 93rd percentile in the United States for her ability in analytics in the field of marketing.
Judaism is a lifelong subject of learning. Thus, Rebitzen Laylu took a hiatus to attend the Neve College in Jerusalem, Israel where she enjoyed studying and furthering her love of Torah and Judaism.
As a young adult, Rebitzen Laylu worked with at-risk Jewish youth. People are naturally attracted to her vivacious, enthusiastic and non-judgmental personality, and she has seen great success in this area. She co-ran a teen road trip camp called “The Road Less Traveled,” which combined hiking, camping, and enjoying G-d’s great outdoors, with addressing the soul searching questions of Jewish Youth. She co-founded a popular weekly mentoring program for troubled teens where Jewish girls of every level of religious observance could hang out, and enjoy the camaraderie, good food, fun activities, and great discussions.
Mentoring teenagers made Rebitzen Laylu aware that she possessed a wealth of Hebrew and Judaic studies that others were not as fortunate to have experienced. It made her to realize she has so much to offer Jews looking to expand the knowledge of their Jewish heritage. She had never thought of herself as a “Rebitzen type”, but was surprised to discover that this was indeed where life was taking her. She sought a husband who shared her goals in this area, was looking to love unconditionally, and could give of himself to Jews everywhere.
When Rabbi and Rebitzen Sokol met in 2005, they quickly realized that they were meant for one another. They shared similar goals and values in regard to a home and raising children. They had a similar desire to teach, to give, and to open their hearts to each and every Jew. They got engaged just a couple of weeks later and married shortly after that. They decided to reside in suburban Lakewood NJ for the time being, where Rebitzen Laylu’s family resides and there are many choices of Rabbinic Colleges.
Rabbi Sokol enrolled in a prestigious S’micha (Rabbinic Ordination) program while working as the Executive Director at the Chavrei Hakollel. Chavrei Hakollel is a Yeshiva for teenage boys and young married Kollel members that learn one-on-one (Chavruta-style learning). Rabbi Sokol’s charismatic and magnetic personality was immediately noticed and he was asked to teach classes to the high school students as well the Kollel members.