As we are all painfully aware, two months ago the world lost one of the great pioneers of women’s education when Rebbetzin Denah Weinberg, obm, passed away. All of our hearts were broken when her soul left this world to join her holy husband, Rav Noah Weinberg, in Heaven. The Rebbetzin, as she was known, built EYAHT, a beautiful school for women with limited Judaic background. So many Jewish leaders came out of that institution because of the Rebbetzin’s careful nurturing and oversight. It was an important component to Jewish women’s education around the world and to the Aish community.
It is not by chance that only a few months before the Rebbetzin’s passing Aish finally reopened a top notch, year round educational institution for women. Aish Gesher for Women and Aish Aspire are the continuation of the Rebbetzin’s work and are carrying on the legacy of EYAHT. It is as if the Almighty knew that although nothing can mend our hearts from the loss of the Rebbetzin, continuing her holy work is the best consolation we could have.
So many amazing things have happened over the past year at our women’s leadership division. I would like to tell you about an event this past week that moved us all in an impactful way. Many months ago it was decided that although teaching about acts of kindness (chesed) is primary to our curriculum, we needed to find projects to give our students hands-on experience in how to practice it. We are blessed to have Hannah Paul as our student advisor and Coordinator of Chesed Programs. Under her guidance the students ran a wildly successful carnival and bat mitzvah for orphans. Then a new, bigger idea started to come to fruition. Create a wedding!
We identified a terrific couple who had recently become more active in their Judaism and don’t have the means to pay all the wedding expenses. So Aish leapt into action and took care of everything. Our students arranged and executed everything from the shower, flowers, bridal chair, centerpieces, hair, makeup, fruit platters, set up, serving, super exciting dancing, entertaining the bride and groom, and of course the beautifully folded napkins which the Dan Family Aish World Center Staff showed them how to do! Our Dean, Rabbi Dovid Rosman performed the ceremony and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
The mother of the bride couldn’t believe how our students kept thanking her for allowing them the opportunity to participate in their celebration. By the end she wanted to join Aish Gesher for Women! Our students filled the Aish World Center with true love and happiness. I am so proud of our students. The selflessness they showed and the kindness that their hearts exuded were unparalleled.
There are so many thank you’s needed for this event. Our staff at the Aish World Center was outstanding. Thank you to the staff of Aish’s women’s educational division and especially Mrs. Michal Dubov, Mrs. Aleeza Lebowitz, Mrs. Andrea Schulman, Mrs. Dena Rich, Rabbi Rosman and the indefatigable Mrs. Hannah Paul. Additionally, thank you to Bradley Martin and the amazing Aish events team, Shira Plotkin, Noa Melamed and Yossi Jacob.
This event took an enormous amount of energy and everyone contributed with a smile from ear to ear. Many thanks to the anonymous family who, not yet connected to Aish, heard about what we were doing and sponsored the event anonymously in memory of their father, Gedalya ben Menachem Yehoshua who used to sponsor weddings for those who couldn’t afford the costs whenever one of his children got married.
There is so much to be proud of in this story. The continuity of women’s education at Aish after the Rebbetzin’s passing; the kindness of spirit of our students and staff; the true feeling that Jews are truly one big family. I find myself moved by this story beyond words because this is the Jewish story. We must always care for one another. We must always assist one another. We must always celebrate with one another. May the Almighty bless this couple with long life and joy always. May we all constantly remember what is important in life: to love and be there for one another. There is no greater mission for a Jew.