I hope that you all had an inspirational and spiritual Passover. I was blessed to spend my holiday with family and friends. There is nothing like the retelling of the story of our ancestors’ escape from slavery to help us focus on why working towards a strong Jewish Nation is so important. I also had a chance to speak to many of our alumni and current students. The support for Aish has never been stronger!
As you have seen in my emails, gratefully our guests have begun to return to Israel and to the Dan Family Aish World Center. In the coming days, we will officially be reopening to the public. Over the past two years due to covid and the resulting lack of tourists in Israel, we developed a more structured approach to the use of the building. In the interest of transparency with all of you, I want to share some of the changes going forward.
Since the building opened over 12 years ago, the Aish World Center has been used for Jewish life cycle events. Many from around the world rented our beautiful space for Bar Mitzvahs and weddings. In the subsequent years, our traffic has increased exponentially. Therefore, in consultation with our Board, we have decided to discontinue renting out the AWC. It will still be available for donors and partners but will not be available as a rental hall to the general public. This was not an easy decision, but I believe it was the right one given our incredible growth over the past few years.
When you next enter the lobby of the AWC, you will be asked to sign in. You will have the ability to do this in advance online, or in person at the door. This is being done both for security and programmatic reasons. We need to know who is coming to visit so we can properly ensure the security of all those who are in the building. In addition, our staff needs to know who is coming through so we can better match our programmatic efforts to our visitors. The added measures will help us make you feel even more welcome.
We are also revamping our famous Essentials classes to provide more targeted windows for learning opportunities. We are working with our world-famous Yeshiva to provide topical seminar-like experiences. Stay tuned for the new hours and content. We will also be providing tours of the building and our famous Western Wall Experience. These too will be on a more scheduled basis. Please stay tuned for those details as well.
You also may notice digging in front of our building on the Kotel plaza. I am excited to announce that the Israel Antiquities Authority has started to excavate and we anticipate building a plaza on top of that area to service Aish.
In my first four years at Aish, we grew from 30,000 visitors coming annually to the AWC to over 150,000. Covid interrupted that meteoric growth. We are now instituting these changes to continue to give as many Jews as possible access to the AWC. We have also restarted planning the interactive experiential Museum in the building. The AWC is an integral part of our plans to achieve AishVision 2030.
We look forward to welcoming you back with open arms.