Dear Aish Family,

I write this to you as we all prepare to enter into the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. Last night I had the privilege to attend Selichos (forgiveness prayers said on the days leading up to Yom Kippur) at the Western Wall with over 100,000 Jews. I can’t begin to describe the emotions that one experiences seeing the entire Kotel plaza filled with Jews pouring their hearts out to the Almighty.

I kept thinking that this is exactly what the Temple courtyard looked like 2000 years ago. Here we stood so many centuries later after our Temple was destroyed and those Jews who weren’t butchered were exiled. Our exile has been long and harsh. There is virtually not a country in the world from which we have not been persecuted or expelled at some point.

Yet, here we were, 100,000 strong at midnight standing tall and proud on the ground that the world considers occupied territory. The message was clear. Our exile from our beloved country is drawing to a close. It is time for the Jewish nation to return home to the land given to us by the Almighty. It is time for the Jews to return to Israel.

This year has been a complicated one politically and emotionally. The bottom line is that as a nation we know that life is harsh with no homeland. We must all support Israel unconditionally. That does not mean that we can’t voice concerns but it must be as a family. Families have passionate disagreements but in the end, nothing can break the bond of love.

If I have learned one thing about the success of Aish it is that we have succeeded because we love Jews deeply and unconditionally. That is not to say that we don’t have our occasional disagreements and politics. In the bigger picture, Rabbi Noach Weinberg taught us how to love and embrace every Jew. There is no doubt that if we work towards the goal of loving each other and Jewish unity, the Almighty will recognize that we are ready for the third Temple. May this year be one of love and inspiration for us all. Best wishes for an easy and meaningful fast.

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