Dear Aish Family,
The past few weeks at Aish have been incredible. Our Sukkah, which was named one of the ten most beautiful Sukkahs in Israel, was packed day and night. One of the highlights was a concert by Shlomo Katz on Hoshana Rabbah night for our students. At one point, the entire band turned their backs to the audience and continued to play. It seemed strange at first until I realized that they were playing a song about the rebuilding of the Temple and they had turned around to face the Temple Mount!
The holiday ended on a high with Simchas Torah. I was privileged to sing and dance with the students of our Yeshiva. The energy was palpable and the Beis Medrash was packed. One of the most moving moments was when the students and Rabbis all got together and sponsored Dr. Stuart Hytman to receive Chosson Beraishis, (the first blessing of the new cycle of Torah readings) in appreciation for all that he and his family have done for Aish HaTorah.
In the midst of all of the dancing, I saw one of our students standing off to the side and he seemed disturbed. I went over to see if he was okay. He said that a year ago he had no idea what a Torah was and now he was privileged to study it. I said that sounded pretty fantastic and so I asked him why he seemed perturbed. He said that although he was privileged to be in Jerusalem staying at Aish, he couldn’t help but think about the thousands of Jews his age who still didn’t know of the Torah’s wisdom or existence. He looked at me and said, “They are the Almighty’s children too. I can’t celebrate until they all come back.”
I found his words so inspiring. Do we truly believe that every Jew is our brother and sister? If we did, could we celebrate knowing that they were lost to the Almighty and His Torah? I thought about what he said to me. I looked at him and told him that it was our duty to celebrate because it will give us the strength to continue the mission of Aish. We must have joy in our hearts if we are to reach out to our fellow Jews. He smiled and rejoined the dancing. May the Almighty grant all of us joy and inspiration so we can reach out to our fellow Jews B’Simcha!