Dear Aish Family,

This week was extremely tough. While our institution is bursting at the seams and we are filled to capacity, we remembered that one of our staff is no longer with us. This past Tuesday was the first anniversary of the murder of our beloved teacher and mentor Rabbi Biermacher.

One year ago Rabbi Biermacher walked out of the Aish study hall and was set upon by two terrorists at the Jaffa gate who brutally murdered him because he was a Jew. A fellow Jew, Ofer Ben Ami, jumped out of his car to aid him. Ofer was also killed.

A year has gone by. The Biermacher family celebrated a Bar Mitzvah and Rabbi Biermacher was not there to help his son put on Tefilin (Phylacteries). The Biermacher family celebrated a wedding and Rabbi Biermacher was not there to dance with his family. Ofer Ben Ami’s two teenage daughters turned a year older and he was not there to celebrate their birthdays with him.

The Yeshiva walked to the spot where these two holy Jews were slaughtered. We prayed together and sang together. Yes, we also cried together. It was one of the most powerful moments I have experienced as a Jew.

I was asked to speak before we walked to the Jaffa gate. It was a daunting task. What words could offer comfort? What words would be meaningful? I encourage you to watch my talk. It is short but every word came straight from my heart.

The one point I discussed that I would like to highlight is the fact that emotions are fleeting. When our Rebbe was struck down we were outraged. As time marches forward we tend to lose that strong feeling of outrage. Here we were one year later and on the anniversary of the attack four young soldiers were run over by a terrorist in a truck. So we are outraged again, for a time….

How does one keep focused and keep the fire of activism and the need to do something to change the world alive? I believe that we had the perfect role model in Rabbi Noach Weinberg ZT”L. Rav Noach would get up each and every day and worry about the spiritual and physical dangers plaguing the Jewish nation. He would shake his finger at his students and tell them that they were not doing enough. He would drill into everyone that he met that Jews need to take responsibility for other Jews.

I have often said that what defines the Aish movement is the need to get up every morning, look oneself in the mirror and ask what we are doing to help the Jewish nation. The philosophy of Aish HaTorah is not just any one specific Torah class or idiom. Aish HaTorah is a state of mind. To be a part of Aish HaTorah you need to live, care and worry about our Jewish brothers and sisters every day, no matter where they reside geographically.

This Shabbos, in memory of Rabbi Biermacher, Ofer Ben Ami and Reb Noach, I ask that all of you spend some thinking about our Jewish brothers and sisters. Think about what you can do to help the Jews be safe physically. Think about what you can do to spiritually inspire Jews. I guarantee that if we take this first step, the Almighty will grab our hand and help us every step of the way.

Warm regards and good shabbos.

Rabbi Steven Burg speaks on the first yartzeit of Rabbi Biermacher

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