Dear Aish Family,
I am writing to you from Manhattan. That was not my original plan. I was supposed to be in Israel this past week with the heads of Aish Branches around the world. We had chosen to get together on the yahrzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Rav Noach Weinberg, of blessed memory, to strengthen each other and focus on the vision of our founder. Then came Omicron…
Given the complications of international travel and the fact that many of our branches are in the United States, we decided to shift our International Meetings to New York. What an amazing few days it has been! (Watch here) We spent nearly the entire first day reviewing AISHVision2030. Aish Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits spoke about the origins of the plan. He described in intricate detail how we arrived at our ten-year vision.
We then shifted into practical details about what we have accomplished in the first year of our ten-year plan. Rabbi Tzvi Gluckin, who has been the whiz behind so much of our social media content, gave an in-depth talk about Aish’s growth on social media. It was fascinating to hear how quickly and consistently we have grown our audience of millennials online. Aish is now producing a tremendous amount of new content every day. Rabbi Tzvi told everyone that we were happy to send this content to all the branches every day so they could build their own social media presence as well!
Many of Rav Noach’s students took turns speaking to the group about his impact on their lives. The founders of the Traveling Chassidim, brothers Rabbis Aryeh and Yisroel Royde, spoke about the inspiration they received from Rabbi Weinberg. Both of them named their sons Noah after him. They have created an international movement of Chassidim that travels to communities around the world for Shabbos to show love and joy. They spoke about how Aish’s powerful Torah has transformed the lives of Chassidim as well as many other kinds of Jews all around the world.
My good friend and one of the sponsors of the conference, Allen Isaac Gross, spoke about how Rav Noach used to stay at his home in Brooklyn many times for Shabbos. On Saturday nights, right when Shabbos was over, Rabbi Weinberg would quickly head out the door back on his mission to save the Jewish people. He related one of my favorite stories from those special Shabbos dinners.
Mr. Gross’s son, Yumi, was a teenager and the only one home. He gave Rav Noach a glass of Coca Cola with lots of ice (his favorite drink). Rav Noach said thank you, looked this Jewish teenager in the eye and said, “What are you doing to save the Jewish people?”
Indeed this is the lesson we must take from Rav Noach’s life. We are all brothers and sisters. We are a family. Family cares for one another. What are we all doing to reconnect Jews with their heritage? Being Jewish is a privilege. It is a legacy far more precious than gold or diamonds. How can we convey that to Jews around the globe? Having spent the past few days with the collective leadership of Aish branches, I know that we will continue to make Rav Noach and the Almighty proud.