Recently I told everyone how proud I was of our digital team. Our target for 2023 was 50 million video views on social media and we accomplished that in only six months! I am ecstatic to now report that in the month of July alone we surpassed 25 million video views! Many thanks to our indefatigable team leader, Rabbi Elliot Mathias who has managed our shift to social media in ways few could have imagined. Mazel tov to Aish CMO, Jamie Geller and all the truly talented personnel at Aish for a stellar job well done. We are well on our way to AISHVision 2030 as a result of our spectacular staff.
As so many of you are aware, Toronto was one of the earliest and strongest locations of Aish outside of Jerusalem. It was in Toronto that Aish became an international entity. One of the institutions within Toronto that literally put Aish on the map was The Village Shul. Started by Rabbi Yaakov and Lori Palatnik, it was one of the first combination synagogues and Aish Learning Centers. So many Jews walked through the doors and were exposed to wisdom for life.
I was honored to spend this past Shabbos at the Village Shul speaking and celebrating Shabbos with some of the most amazing Aish partners in North America. Rabbi Tzvi Sytner is the current CEO and Senior Rabbi of the Village Shul. Rabbi Sytner made the traditional Torah reading come alive. In between each aliya he would ask deep trivia questions and reward the right answers with bags of licorice! What was amazing was that everyone in the congregation was engaged and suggesting answers.
My wife, Rebbetzin Rachel Burg was honored to give a class during davening for those that might find traditional prayers difficult. I expected to find a small group at the class. I was shocked to see almost 100 Jews attending, thirsty for Jewish wisdom. In most synagogues after prayers everyone hurries to the kiddush. At The Village Shul, everyone patiently waited as I gave a 45 minute class after davening had ended.
After the kiddush, we joined Rabbi and Rebbetzin Sytner for lunch with over 50 young professionals. It was clear from the personal stories how instrumental the Sytners and the Village Shul have been in their Jewish journeys. I felt truly blessed to see incredible Jewish leadership in action in Toronto.
While I was in Toronto celebrating The Village Shul, Rabbi Elliot Mathias traveled to Detroit to celebrate the opening of Aish Detroit’s Wisdom Cafe. Rabbi Simcha and Estee Tolwin are among the shining stars of Aish educators around the world. They recently upgraded their facilities with a beautiful space for Jews to come relax and “drink” in words of wisdom. When you go to their website you will understand. The first line says it all: “Fall in Love with Being Jewish.”
Thank you to Netflix star, Jewish matchmaker Aleeza Ben Shalom for joining Aish Detroit for the dedication. We know she had a busy week as she traveled from Michigan to Aish Buenos Aires for a beautiful program in Argentina.
I am entering this Shabbos totally invigorated and inspired. Whether it be online or in cities around the world, Aish is inspiring the Jewish nation. The key to our success has always been the talented men and women that make up the dedicated staff of Aish. In many ways I am left feeling that our target to have 3 million Jews study Jewish wisdom is too small. We chose that number because it represented 20% of world Jewry, and we felt it could effectuate a shift in Jews defining Judaism as truly a “people of the book.” With all of your help I am certain that we can bring 100% of our brothers and sisters to “Fall in Love with being Jewish.”