Historically, Aish has been a place where leadership training was in the air. Whether we are fully cognizant of it, Jews always try to lead. We always try to make the world around us a better place. It’s in our DNA. Aish was created by our founder, Rabbi Noach Weinberg zt”l as a movement for taking responsibility for humanity. One of the most beautiful ways in which we do that is by allowing young leaders to step up and take responsibility.
For the last few weeks, Aish New York has been running a campaign called Clean Speech. This program was created by Rabbi Raphael Leban, Managing Director of The Jewish Experience Center in Denver. Its brilliance is in exposing the world to the Torah wisdom surrounding how we speak to one another. Jewish law is replete with direction about how to avoid slandering others. The Clean Speech campaign allowed Aish to unite many Jewish organizations in the New York area under the banner of Clean Speech. In a time where so many publish their unedited thoughts about each other on social media, the world can use a reminder of the importance of our words.
When we sought out a leader to run this campaign we decided we needed someone who understood social media and could convey these essential thoughts to the next generation. We found the perfect candidate in Alexandra Feingold. After the initial interview, we knew that Alexandra’s energy and passion were needed for Clean Speech. We just had to wait for her to return from her studies in Israel.
The campaign has been a huge success culminating this past week with Alexandra appearing on NYC premier cable news channel NY1. Her passionate, articulate description of the campaign to greater New York was inspiring. This is the core of what Aish is all about. Bringing Jewish values and wisdom to the greater world and showing how it can qualitatively improve all of our lives. The best part has been watching a young Jewish leader guide the process. I am really proud of the Aish NY team consisting of Rabbi Elliot Mathias and Rabbi Saj Freiberg who have mentored Alexandra throughout this process. I urge all of you to visit our website at https://cleanspeech.com/nyc/ and bring this program to your communities.
I was also blessed this week to attend the Chai Lifeline National Gala ‘Evening of Heroes.’ Chai Lifeline is an incredible organization dedicated to supporting families with children fighting cancer. The honorees were my close dear friends and cousins, Bari and Daniel Erber. The date had been marked on my calendar for a while as I made sure to be in New York between trips to Israel and Florida. It was an inspiring night filled with tears and laughter.
One moment that stood out was the moving speech by Chai Lifeline’s indefatigable leader, Rabbi Simcha Scholar. He spoke about the assistance that is given to families around the world, and also mentioned the terrible antisemitism that has reared its ugly head in the United States. He said that no matter how much hate is in the streets, we will not stop doing the things that we must do.
I was very moved by this statement because I believe it accurately describes all of Jewish history. We have always made the case to the greater world that we can all do better. We must all do better. We must be there for each other. We must watch what we say to one another. We must hold Jewish values close to our hearts. We must support each other. The common denominator for all of this is love. We must love each other. No matter how much hate is directed at the Jewish people we will never stop being a “Nation of Love”. The Almighty loves each and every one of us with the greatest love imaginable. We must pass it on to each other every day.