Dear Aish Family,

This past week was Yom HaZikaron – Israel’s Memorial Day where all the fallen soldiers and terrorist victims are remembered. It is a day where we are all truly reminded of the high stakes of being a Jew. As is the case every year, there was a ceremony at the Western Wall commemorating this solemn day.

Whenever there is a high-level event at the western wall with important political dignitaries, the Shabak, (Israeli counterintelligence and internal security service) take over the upper floors of the Aish HaTorah Dan Family World Center. Since the President of the State of Israel would be attending, we hosted many security agents at Aish.

One of the staff members of Aish told me that when he was talking to a young woman from Shabak she asked him what the famous Chihuly sculpture, which hangs in our lobby, was all about. He explained that it represented the story of Rabbi Akiva who was 40 years old and had never learned Torah. He then went on to be one of the greatest Torah sages ever to walk the earth.

Rabbi Akiva made the decision to let the Aish HaTorah – the fire of Torah – enter his heart. We hang it in the lobby to show every Jew that it is never too late to study Torah. The Shabak agent said to our staffer that she was inspired and she would come back to Aish HaTorah to study. With that, she went back to her post to keep Jews safe.

Being Jewish is difficult on days like Yom HaZikaron. We think back to all the adolescent soldiers that perished over the last 69 years and our hearts ache. We must all remember that as tough as these days may be, we are a family and the Jewish nation will always be there for each other. We are bound together through our Torah and our love for the Almighty. We share a common heritage. We love one another. May all those who sacrificed their lives for their Jewish brothers and sisters be remembered for the heroes that they were.

Warm regards and good shabbos!

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