I have been asked many times about Aish‘s involvement in politics. As one of the largest Jewish organizations in the world, we often meet and host political figures. So many of them stop by the Dan Family Aish World Center for visits and pictures on our awe-inspiring rooftop. Our message to so many of these world leaders is probably different than that of many organizations. We talk to all of them about the importance of Jewish wisdom and the Biblical connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. We are educators at heart and that is how we reach out.
I was very proud that we hosted US Ambassador Tom Nides at our yearly Birkat Kohanim (Priestly blessing) event on the holiday of Sukkot. We gave him a very special gift. It was a picture of him deep in prayer at the Western Wall with an Aish kippa (skullcap) taken on a previous visit to Aish. My message to him was that no matter how difficult politics may get, the Almighty will always be there for us. His response was beautiful. The Ambassador described coming from Minnesota with a different religious background than many at Aish and yet feeling very much at home with us.
I recently texted one of the leaders of Congress and Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Representative Tom Emmer, reminiscing about the Shabbat meal we shared on the Diener porch overlooking the Western Wall and reminding him of the conversation we had about the Almighty’s role in the world. Although Congressman Emmer and I observe different religions we found common language talking about God’s role in the world and in our lives. This is the message that Aish continually spreads around the world at large. That of the Almighty’s role in the world and our lives.
It was in that spirit that I traveled to Washington to meet the current White House Jewish Faith Liaison, Shelley Greenspan. Shelly serves in a dual role as she is also a Policy Advisor for Partnerships and Global Engagement at the National Security Council. I was impressed by her deep knowledge of the Jewish community and passion for building bridges to many diverse communities. We brainstormed ways that Aish could partner with the White House to deliver programmatic content to the world. It was a terrific meeting filled with promise for future collaboration. Our community is fortunate to have Shelley in this role in the White House.
While I was at the White House, Aish was busy hosting former world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the Aish World Center in Jerusalem. While these two meetings may seem incongruous to some, the message was the same. Floyd met with Aish’s world-renowned educators Rabbi Dov Ber Cohen and Rabbi Etiel Goldwicht. They spoke with him about the holiness of the area he was visiting and the role of the Almighty in our lives. We showed him one of our educational films and then escorted him to the Western Wall.
I believe that this is the secret to Aish’s success. Whether someone is a powerful politician or a world-champion athlete, we deliver a message that the Almighty loves every person deeply; that a life filled with passion for doing good deeds is a life well lived. Studying and pursuing Jewish wisdom ensures an enhanced quality of life. This in essence sums up AishVision 2030. We must stand strong in support of Jewish values no matter who we are speaking to. All of you are able to be ambassadors for the Jewish people. Sprinkle your conversations with some Jewish wisdom. Be open about your love for the Almighty. Let’s all lift up the world around us.