Dear Aish Family,

Rabbi-Steven-BurgThis past week was truly an honor for all of us at Aish. We hosted Congressman Tom Emmer from Minnesota on his inaugural trip to Israel. There were many amazing moments throughout the trip, including many high-level meetings with the political elite of Israel, but truth be told the highlight was Friday night Shabbos dinner.

After bringing the Congressman down to the Western Wall to observe Friday night prayers we celebrated a Shabbos meal in the Dan Family Aish HaTorah World Center. Halfway through the meal, I asked the Congressman if he would like to address some of the Jewish College students that were attending Aish programs and eating their meal a few floors below us. Congressman Emmer said that he would be honored and off we went.

IMG 4771-SThe congressman spoke to the young Jewish leaders about his background and his support of Israel. He then took questions that ran the gamut of American politics. We then returned to our meal thinking that we were done.

A short time later some of the students came to join us and continued the discussion. What ensued was a two-hour back and forth amongst the guests regarding American values, religious values, and Jewish values. The conversation was passionate and the security guard one level below came to check that everything was OK. Finally, at midnight, we had to end the discussion because the Aish Campus students had to head back to their hotel.

IMG-20160610-WA0015A few days later I asked Congressman Emmer what the highlight of his trip was. Without batting an eyelash he said it was the Friday night Shabbos dinner. It made him realize that our Jewish convictions were not just lip-service but deep held beliefs that we live by.

Listening to the Congressman, I was overcome with a sense of pride. The drive and inspiration of Aish HaTorah clearly burst through last Friday night. Judaism without passion just doesn’t work. It was clear to the Congressman and we must make it clear to every Jew. Judaism is not a spectator sport. We must all be in it to win it.

IMG-20160610-WA0012On behalf of all of us at Aish HaTorah, we would like to wish you a joyous and meaningful Shavuos holiday.

Good Shabbos and Chag Sameach!

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