Dear Aish Family,

One of the privileges that I get to have week after week is meeting members of the Aish family around the world. For a few days this past week I was able to spend quality time with the lay and professional leadership of Aish Toronto. We all came together at the cottage of Aish Toronto board member Jordana and Larry Stockhamer on Lake Simcoe.

We had representation from Aish Toronto and the three Aish Synagogues, the Village Shul and Aish Learning Center, the Aish Thornhill Community Shul and the Thornhill Woods Shul in partnership with Aish Toronto. It was a packed house!! These meetings were the brainchild of the indefatigable Aish Toronto President Mark Halpern. The goal was simply to unify the different parts of Aish Toronto and focus on the future.

Aish Toronto is not just any branch. It has been referred to by many as the crown jewel of the Aish branch system worldwide. It was one of the first branches and it literally changed the Judaic direction of the Toronto Jewish community. So many supporters of Jewish causes all over Toronto found their way back to our tribe based on forty years of inspiring work by the staff of Aish Toronto.

Rabbi Mitch Mandel, the founder of Aish Toronto, took us through the history of the branch and why they were so successful. It was fascinating to hear how Aish innovated so many outreach techniques that are now readily available in every Toronto Shul. Much appropriate credit was given to our mentor and teacher, Rav Noach Weinberg OB”M for his vision in understanding the needs of Toronto.

What was so inspirational for me was seeing how much good people can accomplish when they come together. Admittedly, Aish Toronto had not done a retreat like this in many years. All of us who attended pledged to make this an annual event.

This is the secret power possessed by the Jewish nation. When we are united nothing can stop us. Jewish unity must be a priority for Aish HaTorah going forward. We intend on running more of these types of retreats and focus on how to inspire and strengthen our Jewish brothers and sisters. There is no greater joy for the Almighty than seeing His children unite to make the world a better and stronger place. May the Almighty give us the strength to leave any divisive issues behind and continue to unite for the sake of His glory.

Warm regards and good shabbos!

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