Dear Aish Family,
One of the greatest strengths that Aish HaTorah possesses are the Aish branches. I had the opportunity this week of spending time with two of our star branches.
Aish Minnesota was started by a lay leader with a dream. Ken “Chaim” Fink had been an active lay leader within Aish well before there was ever a branch in Minnesota. At every branch conference, he would proudly wear his name tag which would identify him as a Minnesotan. Chaim would frequently be asked if he was there representing the branch in Minnesota to which he kept replying that there wasn’t one. One day, Dick Horowitz took him aside and told him that it was time to start a branch in Minnesota. So Chaim gathered some friends, raised some money and started a branch. True Aish leadership in action.
It was terrific spending time with all the lay leaders and Rabbis in Minneapolis. They all had one thing in common: constant high praise for Rabbi David and Rebbetzin Giti Fredman, the branch directors. Everywhere Rabbi Ephraim Shore and I went we were told about all the great programs and Torah classes that the Fredmans were running. It was a real moment of pride for all of Aish HaTorah.
From there, Rabbi Shore and I traveled to Aish San Diego. We met with the local board and our new Branch Director Rabbi Palti. Together we viewed the blueprints for the soon to be built Aish HaTorah Shul. We also discussed plans for the future of the branch.
I couldn’t help but realize how special this week was. I went from a branch that was created and continues to be strengthened by strong lay leadership to a brand new branch started by charismatic lay leadership who want to build a future for their children and grandchildren with Aish HaTorah.
The strength of Aish HaTorah is the knowledge that every Jew has the power to change the world. Minnesota and San Diego are just two of the many cities around the world where Aish HaTorah has empowered Jewish leaders to build, create and facilitate community. We must start to come together and create the synergy needed to help all Jews become Jewishly literate and connect with G-d. Over the next few years, all of us at Aish will work every day to bring us all together in service of the Almighty.
Today is the beginning of the nine days of mourning which count down towards the commemoration of the destruction of both the first and second Temple in Jerusalem. We have been taught that disunity amongst the Jews led to these terrible events. May we all strive for the next week to come together as one Jewish nation. May the Almighty bless us with the rebuilding of the third Temple as a result of our love for each other.