Dear Aish Family,
This past week I had the honor of spending time in London with Aish UK. It is one of our most unique branches in that the scope and size of the mission are enormous. They literally service every aspect of Jewish life in the United Kingdom.
A number of years ago when Rabbi Naftali Schiff realized that Aish UK was growing at a fast rate he created an organization called the Jewish Futures Trust (JFT) as the parent organization to Aish UK and many other sub-branded organizations. JFT consists of ten organizations that are changing Jewish life in Great Britain for the better.
The JFT groups are diverse. JRoots, which is a travel and touring company, has enabled tens of thousands of Jews to visit Poland and experience the depths of what we lost. GIFT is an initiative where Jews of all backgrounds come to help those in need and to give back to others. CHAZAK is an effort set up to inspire Sephardic youth and run by the charismatic Rabbi Shlomo Farhi.
You really must go to JFT.org.uk to read all about this incredible effort. What is really amazing is the massive amount of talent that Rabbi Schiff has managed to put together. Recently, Rabbi Daniel Rowe was promoted to be the head of Aish UK so Rabbi Schiff could concentrate on all ten groups under the JFT banner. Rabbi Rowe is one of the most brilliant educators and thinkers that I have encountered around the world and we look forward to hearing about the new heights that Aish UK will achieve under his leadership.
As inspiring as all these herculean efforts are, what inspired me the most about my Lindon visit was the commitment to Torah by all those involved. Not only do they see it as their mission to cling to and teach Torah values, they live it every day. I saw a tremendous amount of personal learning and growth amongst the professionals of JFT.
Many times when Jewish leaders focus on bringing the Jewish nation closer to the Almighty we sacrifice our relationship with G-d. We just don’t have the time to worry about our personal connection to The Almighty. The key to Aish’s success over the years was the persistent focus on personal growth.
When Rav Noach Weinberg ZT”L was close to the end of his time in this world, Rabbi Schiff had the idea for him to take his students for a trip to Poland to strengthen their internal flame. Even though all attendees were grown Rabbis they switched into student mode and followed their Rebbe to Poland to reignite their flame.
In Judaism, the highest compliment that one can get is that they are a Talmid Chacham, which literally translates to a “wise student”. It seems strange that the highest level one can achieve is not being a master but rather a student. The answer is obvious. In Judaism, we believe that one is always a student of Torah because there is always more to learn. I believe this is the secret of JFT and Aish around the world. We, the professionals at Aish, view ourselves as perpetual students, striving to awaken the studious spirit of Jews around the globe. May the Almighty give JFT, Aish UK and Aish Global the strength to learn, live and teach His Torah.