Message from the
Desk of Rabbi Steven Burg
Dear Aish Family,
In the Torah, the Almighty declared that the holiday of Sukkos was one of three times a year that Jews would ascend to the Temple in Jerusalem. Then our Temple was destroyed and we were exiled for 2000 years. Over that time, there were periods where we could barely scrape a minyan (quorum) together in Jerusalem. Fast forward to this year when over 1,000,000 Jews visited the Western Wall. Clearly, THE JEWS ARE BACK!!!
We watched the throngs of Jews make their way to the Old City of Jerusalem. It was breathtaking to watch in contrast to last year when the country was in Covid19 lockdown. At the Dan Family Aish World Center we welcomed back so many old friends. Perhaps one of the highlights for me was hosting seventy of the top members of the Israeli Police Force for a lunch in our Sukka led by the Israeli Police Commissioner, Kobi Shabtai and Jerusalem District Police Commander, Doron Turgeman.
Although the organizers of the luncheon were nervous for security reasons to have it on our roof, we convinced them that it would be a great opportunity for all the officers to partake in the mitzvah of eating in the Sukka. They agreed and in the end they all loved the experience. I was having lunch that day with my good friend, World Zionist Organization Chairman and interim Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Yaakov HaGoel. We both thanked the police for all that they do to keep us all safe.
The next day we celebrated Birkat Kohanim with so many of our Aish partners. For years this event has been the highlight of Sukkos at Aish. Last year was the first time in over a decade that we were unable to host anyone. We also hosted a Hoshana Rabba concert by Shlomo Katz. My favorite moment came when Shlomo turned his back on the audience to sing directly towards the Temple Mount. It was as if he was having a deep and personal conversation with the Almighty.
All of these events were amazing, but frankly, the absolute highlight was Simchas Torah in our Yeshiva. Enrollment over the past few years has skyrocketed to the point where we have hundreds of young men studying Torah daily. The energy in the Beis Medrash was palpable. Seeing young Jews from countries around the world come together in Aish and dance their hearts out in celebration of the Torah was moving beyond words.
One young man who just arrived from Mexico was noticeably dancing with tremendous vigor. I spoke with him and asked him what inspired him. He told me that Jews around the world sing about Jerusalem but he wasn’t only singing about it. He was living in Jerusalem. As the Covid restrictions begin to recede, I invite all of you to come and dance with us in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Steven Burg