I continued my travels this week spending time in communities around Florida. As I have mentioned many times, travel is crucial for any leader to understand the dynamics of our people. I had the opportunity to speak with a number of non-Jewish Spanish speakers in Miami and was so uplifted by their support for Israel. I encouraged all of them to follow Aish on social media as we have robust Spanish content.
Perhaps my most moving conversation was with Jake Diamond and Andrew Skydell. I have known them both for a number of years and have watched as they have become significant young Jewish leaders in their community. Both of their families have long standing ties to Aish. As millennials, they both appreciate what Aish has done in the social media sphere. We spoke about our growth and how Aish has broken the million video views a day barrier.
I was so proud of them both for organizing a fundraiser and inviting young Jews to come together to support Israel through the local Jewish Federation. The amount of hard work and calls that went into the event was astronomical. It was held in the backyard of Aish partners Bob and Michelle Diener at their home on Indian Creek Island. Initially Jake and Andrew, who are also business partners, shared with those coming they intended to employ a caucus methodology to the event.
So many events are frontal and we are all just spoken “at.” They wanted to give their peer group the chance to express themselves. Many who said they would attend said it would be on condition they not speak. Undaunted, after hearing from an Israeli survivor of the 10/7 massacres, Jake led the gathering by speaking from his heart. Soon the microphone was being passed to everyone there and the emotions began to pour out. By the end of the event, over $600,000 was raised and a new generation of Jewish leaders had been cultivated.
I was so moved as Andrew and Jake were relating to me what they had accomplished. They also spoke about how many young Jews had been motivated to try to attain more active Jewish lives. At the same time a very different meeting was occurring in New York which was just as crucial to the future of the Jewish people.
This past week one of our Aish Rabbis was invited to have a frank and honest dialogue with a group of Jewish young professionals who are passionately anti-Israel. It was a passionate give and take regarding the current war and the History of Jews in Israel. The Rabbi left with a sense that this meeting was the first time that these Jews had participated in a real dialogue and received some serious answers to ponder. You can read about this fascinating interaction in this article on Aish.com.
When Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits assumed the role of Rosh Yeshiva of Aish, he passionately told me that we must seek out young progressive Jews and educate them about the meaning of Judaism. We must not condemn their passion but rather recognize it as a gift. We must make a strong case for the fact that Judaism brought morality and ethics to the world. We must recapture their passion and utilize it to make the world a better place.
I will fully admit that although I heard what Rabbi Berkovits was saying, at the time, I didn’t truly understand it. Would it really be possible to engage those who took a passionately negative stance towards the Jewish people and Israel? Reading this aish.com article, which may be the most important article Aish has ever published, truly sheds light on what our real job is. We must activate young Jews to raise their voices and be heard in the way that Jake and Andrew did in Miami. We must educate young Jewish leaders about their heritage and the important role they have to play. This will take all of us working together.
Today is the first day of Chanukah where we remember how the world tried to wipe out the Jews physically and spiritually. They always go hand in hand. This week we witnessed the heads of major Ivy League institutions in the United States on Capitol Hill unable to condemn threats of genocide against our Jewish sons and daughters on college campuses. We witnessed the world unable to condemn the rape of Jewish daughters. We witnessed the world unable to condemn the slaughter of Jewish children and babies.
In the end, the Jewish people will survive and thrive. The reason is because we know that our future lies in the hands of the next generation. That’s why Aish has passionately embraced social media. We must send the call out to young Jews around the world. You are our hope. You are our future. Hearing about Jake and Andrew’s event, and listening to this Rabbis account of his meeting has made me more hopeful and passionate about the future of the Jewish Nation. Am Yisrael Chai. The Jewish Nation will truly continue to live through these young Jews.