Dear Aish Family,
This past Friday was a hectic day at the Aish Dan Family World Center. We had many celebrities that stopped by to enjoy the view. Israeli NBA star Omri Casspi brought a delegation of NBA basketball players and Hollywood actors to the roof of Aish HaTorah to take in the view and understand the importance of the Temple Mount in Jewish History.
Rabbi Etiel Goldwicht performed a Bar Mitzvah for Actor Jeremy Piven and all in attendance sang Mazel Tov.
We also hosted our Board of Governors member Jerry Lieberman with his family for a tour. In short, it was a busy day.
I would just like to single out who I felt was the real hero of the day on Friday.
As I was standing outside The Dan Family Aish HaTorah World Center, I was approached by two teenage brothers. They said they were from Malibu and had never been to Israel before. I had some time so I offered to take them to our roof to see the Western Wall. While we were taking in the view, they mentioned that they were in Israel with their family and they would love to have a traditional Friday night dinner. I was at a loss. I was acting at the Yeshiva which is not the best place to host a family looking for intimate conversation. I was unsure where to direct them so I took down their contact information.
Right after they left, I had a thought. In the past year I have become friendly with one of the great leaders of the Jewish people, Jeff Seidel. Jeff runs The Jewish Student Information Centers around Israel. They are located on many campuses but are headquartered in the Old City. Jeff is constantly setting people up for Shabbos so I thought I would give it a try.
Jeff immediately emailed me back that it was no problem. They should just meet him at the men's washing fountain at the Western Wall Plaza at 8:05pm. I passed along the message and went back to hosting our visitors.
Later that night, I went to the appointed meeting place to make sure everything worked out. What I saw left me speechless. A huge group was gathered around Jeff and he was working as hard as the maitre d' of a busy restaurant. He was pairing up Jews looking for Shabbos meals with Jews eager to host. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
I believe in my heart that what the Almighty desires most in the world is Jewish unity. When we rebuild the third Temple, it will be as a result of the Jewish people coming together in selfless dedication and support of one another. I would like to publicly thank the real hero of this past Friday, Jeff Seidel, for showing me the true path to Jewish unity.
Aish Israel's Rabbinical Ordination Celebration
Aish Israel is happy to announce that after nearly three years of hard work, training, and studying, they have had their first seven rabbis graduate from their Manpower Development program.
Rabbi Ariel Epstein – 30 years old, married to Tzivi and the father of three children.
Ariel is a graduate of Yeshivat "Chevron" and lives in Givat Shaul, Jerusalem. In addition to his rabbinical studies, Ariel established an innovative study program which allows young, working men to study nightly with young rabbis throughout Jerusalem. Thanks to Aish Israel’s study and training program, Ariel has taken a significant role in the development of special projects, including the Bring Israel Home IDF Leadership Program.
Rabbi Yechiel Kenigsberg – 27 years old, married to Shira, father of two children.
Yechiel is a graduate of Yeshivat “Beit Matityahu” and lives in Har Nof, Jerusalem. Yechiel joined the Aish Israel educational and training program two years ago. In addition to his Aish Israel Kollel studies and activities, Yechiel has taken responsibility for sign-up and registration for people looking to expand their knowledge and connection with Aish Israel.
Rabbi Yisrael Gurt – 30 years old, married and the father of three children. Yisrael is a graduate of Yeshivot "Itri" and "Mir" and lives in Kiryat Moshe, Jerusalem. Yisrael spent five years studying and successfully graduated from Israel’s Rabbinical Program, allowing him to serve as a rabbi in Israel. Yisrael joined Aish Israel’s training program one year ago in order to enrich his knowledge and to gain the tools to effectively reach out to the wider Israeli public.
Rabbi Yossi Brody – 30 years old, married to Faiga and the father of three children.
Yossi is a graduate of “Mercaz Hatorah Beitar” and lives in Jerusalem. Yossi joined Aish Israel’s educational & training program nearly two years ago. In addition to his studies, Yossi leads tours and workshops at the Aish Center across of the Western Wall, writes content for Aish Israel’s Hebrew site aish.co.il, and is in charge of the media department for Aish Israel.
Rabbi Moshe Shachor – 30 years old, married to Tehillah and the father of four children.
Moshe is a graduate of Yeshivat "Chevron" and lives in Har Nof, Jerusalem. As a result of Moshe’s training with Aish Israel, he was hired to direct “Kesher Yehudi’s" pre-army division which is dedicated to bridging gaps between religious and secular Israelis through Torah studies. The program currently runs in nine pre-army schools with hundreds of young men and women from around the country.
Rabbi Aryeh Lipka – 27 years old, married to Gila and is the father of two children.
Aryeh is a graduate of Yeshivat "Chevron" and lives in French Hill, Jerusalem. Aryeh joined Aish Israel’s educational and training program two years ago. In addition to his Aish Israel Kollel studies and activities, Aryeh opened a learning and activity center in French Hill, Jerusalem for a wide variety of the neighborhood residents in cooperation with Lev L’Achim.
Rabbi Yirmiyahu Rack – 27 years old, married to Yael and is the father of two children.
Yirmi is Graduate of Yeshivat "Mir-Brachfeld" and lives in Beitar Ilit. Yirmi participates in workshops and learning with soldiers, guides groups, and writes articles for aish.co.il, a website which is being upgraded by the manpower development team.
Here is a photo of Rabbi Neventzal signing the Smicha for the Aish Israel chag hasmicha.
Rabbi Shimon Kaufman and Rabbi Eitiel Goldwicht said, "We would like to send a special thank you to their families for their tireless dedication and to you, our supporters, for getting us to this special day."
Jinternship Final Banquet
Rabbi Avraham Willig of Aish Jerusalem recounts what it was like to lead the students on the Jintership program below.
Students from all over the country and from the United states came together to learn in Yeshiva for two weeks and then work in internships for close to six weeks on the Jinternship program. The learning was really intense and exciting and the program was a stimulating experience for them academically, intellectually, spiritually, and religiously. They got to meet a lot of new people which was very exciting. There are many other J-Internship programs running throughout the country and we got to get them all together. It was very interesting and exciting for them to meet other people their age and, of course, they got to meet people here at Aish HaTorah.
They went on a lot of trips in those eight weeks. They experienced the Mir Yeshiva, packaging for needy people, paintballing, wall climbing, and more.
They are now committed to Jewish learning, putting on Tzitzis, learning seforim (books of Jewish text) and connecting to their rabbi on campus in a more significant and sincere way. One kid bought his parents candlesticks. I called him on Friday and asked if he used them and he said, "Yes, my mom lit candles." Beautiful relationships were formed and I see it as a beginning of a journey for many of them.
Rabbi Willig said, "For me, this was very rewarding I always say that my students are like my children. This was just much more intense than a usual group of students and you just couldn't help but develop real close relationships. To me, its very gratifying to know that. Kids who are so far come and really warmed themselves by the fire of Aish HaTorah and its very gratifying and rewarding."
Rabbi Naftali Schiff from Aish UK came to meet Rabbi Burg in Jerusalem to discuss the strategic direction of Aish around the globe.
The Levene Family from London came to the Aish Dan Family World Center to see their grandmother and great grandmother's name on the Rose of Jacob Wall.
The Philos Project Leadership Mission did the Western Wall Experience Tour on their visit to the Aish Dan Family World Center.
North American political activists came to Israel on a Stand With Us fact-finding trip and had a briefing on the Aish Dan Family World Center Observation Deck.