Dear Aish Family,

Rabbi-Steven-BurgThis week was a busy one for Aish in Israel. We hosted the marriage of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to Irina Nevzlin on the Aish rooftop. I was moved by Irina’s personal story and connection to the Western Wall. Here it is in her own words:

We arrived from Russia to the Western Wall, and I must admit I had no idea what all these stones were. I hardly knew I was Jewish. But despite my ignorance, I remember standing there and crying for hours and I am not someone who cries easily. Maybe that’s why I remember that experience so well. Today, I know that was the most meaningful moment in my life. That was the beginning of my journey towards Judaism and Israel.”

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Reading these beautiful words it is not surprising that Irina and Knesset Speaker Edelstein would want to celebrate their wedding on the roof of Aish HaTorah overlooking the Kotel. It was our honor to host them along with the many dignitaries that attended.

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I landed Wednesday night at Ben Gurion Airport and went straight to Tel Aviv for the Annual Aish Tel Aviv Dinner. Aish Tel Aviv put on an inspirational evening where both honorees gave the equivalent of TED talks describing their personal Judaic journeys and the important role that Aish played. There was much discussion about Aish’s new program in which many engaged couples are studying at Aish Tel Aviv in their stunning learning center right on the beach. Yasher Koach to Rabbi David Ziering and Rabbi Ephraim Shore on the powerful work being done in Tel Aviv.

IMG-20160617-WA0001The highlight for me was meeting Orley Tesler who is one of the most active leaders in Aish Israel’s fantastic program Mothers With Meaning. Both Orley and her husband Arieh, who is a Brigadier General in the IDF, volunteer their time for Aish. Orley was at the Annual Aish Tel Aviv Dinner with Rabbi Shimmy Kaufman who is the Executive Director of Aish Israel. Orley told me that she was recently driving with her husband and children to Tel Aviv to attend a party. Before getting in the car she announced that at 9PM they would all be listening to a Torah class given by Rabbi Etiel Goldwicht. Sure enough at 9pm, all the phones were put away and the whole family learned Torah together.

This story symbolizes what Aish is all about. We firmly believe that the Almighty’s Torah is the ultimate connector for Jewish families. It brings Jews together while giving them guidance for their lives. Thank you, Orley, for reminding us all about this important lesson.

Good Shabbos!

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