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Bridging the Divide

Many challenges have come along with the extraordinary growth Aish has experienced over the past few years. One of the most pressing issues we have dealt with is a lack of physical space. Our yeshiva and dorms were constructed to hold a much smaller number of students than we have today. Last year saw over 950 students come through our dorms. Our new seminary program has already welcomed 200 young women over the past 10 months. We are fielding well over 2000 applications a year to come study at Aish. Recently we enclosed one of our porches in the yeshiva building and turned it into an annex to our Beis Medrash.


I am excited to announce that we have recently leased space in the Old City for a new Beis Medrash. This is the first new learning center in the Old City that Aish has acquired in many years. We have decided to use this new Beis Medrash for our Spanish speaking program dedicated to students from Latin America. Led by the indefatigable Rabbi Zvi Klor who has built this program up over the last two decades, this space will allow Latin American students to feel at home in their native language. In addition to a spacious Beis Medrash, there is a large terrace overlooking the Temple Mount! Please make sure to visit this new beautiful Aish edifice on your next trip! 

This past week I hosted my close friends Bari and Daniel Erber. They had mentioned that they had never been to the Knesset so I was happy to arrange a tour. My visits to the Knesset are usually for meetings, so I was happy to join them with my wife, Rachel, for a full tour. I was not ready for the reception that we received. When we first arrived, we were warmly greeted by the deputy head of the Knesset. He said he was honored to host Aish and immediately took us to meet the Speaker of the Knesset, Amir Ohana. He told me he knew Aish well and had been to the Dan Family Aish World Center many times. Bari Erber bonded in their joint Moroccan heritage. We then met with good friend, MK Yitzchak Pindrus, who then had to leave to attend a committee meeting.

We mentioned that it would be interesting to see the committee meetings in action but understood that they were normally off limits. As this was not the standard tour, before we knew it, we were sitting in the Social Welfare committee meeting. It was a packed room and the discussion was about helping injured veterans get jobs. We sat in the back trying not to be noticed. All of the sudden they stopped the meeting and the chairman, Yisrael Eichler, introduced us to the committee members and spoke about his friendship with the founder of Aish, Rabbi Noach Weinberg, zt’l. Everyone in the room thanked us for our work and applauded Aish. I was so moved by our reception. Then we went to a second committee.

This committee room was roped off and not generally open to outsiders, however we were led in and immediately noticed that the voices were pretty loud. It turns out it was the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. As you may know, there has been much controversy regarding pending laws in Israel affecting the Supreme Court and this was ground zero for the formation of those laws. Folks in the room were very passionate. Again we took seats in the back of the room. All of the sudden the shouting stopped and once again we were welcomed by the chair of the committee. MK Simcha Rothman welcomed us and thanked Aish for our important work. What was amazing was that everyone, no matter which side of the argument they were on, warmly thanked Aish for the important work we are doing for the Jewish people. I felt in those few moments a tremendous sense of unity.

As we are in the period of intense mourning for our Temple which was destroyed 2000 years ago, there is no more important goal than unity. Division among the Jewish people has always been our ‘Achilles heal.’ The Almighty desires nothing more strongly than to have his children embrace one another. To bring home this critical message of unity, Aish Rabbis Yaakov Kalla and Daniel Rose have produced an important program to be viewed on the upcoming fast of Tisha B’Av. I encourage all of you to watch this moving video online and to send it to all of your friends. Let us all strive to come together as one Nation, one people, one family.