On Wednesday this week I celebrated my fifth anniversary of coming to work at Aish. There is no doubt that the last few years have been quite a journey. I am proud of what we have accomplished, especially the way we have weathered corona.
It would have been much easier for us to have “battened down the hatches” and weathered out the Covid-19 storm from the sidelines. Yet Aish did the opposite. We kept our Yeshiva running throughout, with almost 100 students physically in Jerusalem and hundreds more studying via zoom. We are in the midst of securing entry visas for over 100 additional students to rejoin us in September.
Perhaps nowhere was Aish’s massive presence more noticeable than online. Aish.com set new records for the amount of content it was producing daily. Our Rabbis continue to ‘live chat’ with Jews around the world offering comfort and spiritual guidance at a time of despair and fear. Our classes from the Aish World Center exploded around the world through the newly created Aish.TV platform. In short, Aish is reaching millions of Jews throughout the pandemic.
As the CEO, nothing could make me prouder. We have built a massive organization which is still nimble and entrepreneurial enough to pivot in the most terrific way though a worldwide crisis. The challenge of an enormous global institution is to make sure that we don’t become too big to connect with every Jew. At Aish we passionately care about every member of the Jewish Nation.
On a personal level I feel that I have grown in so many ways these past few years. The lay leaders that I have worked with at Aish are second to none. We refer to them as “Partners” because that is exactly the way we work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and admiration.
Our staff at Aish are amongst the most dedicated and driven Jewish professionals in the world. Our founder, Rabbi Noach Weinberg ZT”L lit a fire (אש) in their hearts which today has turned into a raging inferno of taking responsibility for the world around them. I am inspired daily by their sacrifice and determination.
This is not only the case for those lucky enough to be in Jerusalem. The professional men and women who make up our Aish branches around the world on six continents are second to none in their devotion and dedication to Jews in every corner of the world.
The most important factor that makes Aish so successful is that we are “real.” We don’t just teach about the Almighty. We constantly strive to understand what the Almighty wants from each and every one of us. In that spirit, I have started studying one-on-one with with our new Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, Shlita.
We are in the midst of focusing on the first of the six constant Mitzvos (commandments) of Judaism. One would think that to “Know there is a G-d” would be an easy task for the CEO of Aish. Yet, I am finding that every time I study with Rabbi Berkovits, my faith and love for the Almighty increases exponentially.
If I may be so bold, I would like to request an anniversary present from all of you. Please take the time to study Torah with Aish. Whether it be online through one of our many venues or locally with one of our many branch Rabbis. The one guarantee I can make is it will change your life as it is changing mine.
Thank you for allowing me to assume the mantle of leadership for this historic and monumental Jewish institution. You are all deeply embedded in my heart. May the Almighty give me the strength to serve Aish and the Jewish Nation for many years to come. May He Grant us health and healing speedily.
Rabbi Steve Burg