Dear Aish Family,
This week marked a milestone for me. It was the first trip I was allowed into Israel in almost two years without a state-issued permit. Israel is finally open for all to come and we all need to return home. This got me thinking about a story that happened in Aish a few years ago.
The United States Embassy reached out to Aish and asked us to host a Friday night dinner. Ambassador David Friedman had taken a number of US Ambassadors and other prominent Americans to Poland to view the historic destruction of Jewish life in Europe. They then came to Israel for Shabbat. It was an amazing night with each guest sharing how moved they were to see the “scene of the crime” of the Holocaust and then to juxtapose it to Israel.
In the midst of the dinner, one elderly gentleman got up to speak. Hollywood personality Alan Hamel was on the trip with his wife Suzanne Somers. He told us that although he was in his eighties he clearly remembered suffering antisemitism as a young boy. He said that as a result, he tried to be a proud Jew for the rest of his life. He was always supportive of Israel yet he had never visited.
Alan said that for the past twenty years he would vacation in the south of France every year and would always book tickets to Israel. Yet, something always came up and he never made it. Then he started to cry and said how terrible he felt that he denied himself the incredible inspiration that came from Israel. He said he was so moved by his trip that he committed to come back every year for the rest of his life.
We are witnessing the Old City slowly start to fill back up with groups and visitors. It makes everyone here feel better. You can feel the energy in Jerusalem from people finally start to come home again.
I constantly meet Jews in my travels that tell me they intend to come to Israel but never quite make it. My friends, you need to come to Israel. Every single one of you. We have spent the last two years apart. This is the Jewish homeland. This is your home. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to breathe the sweetest air in the world.
This is your home. Aish is ready to welcome you back.
Rabbi Steven Burg