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Family Ties

Dear Aish Family,

Warm regards from Jerusalem. I was able to travel to Israel this past Sunday, ahead of the travel ban instituted on Tuesday. Hopefully, Omicron will be the beginning of the end of the pandemic that has affected all of us for far too long. May the Almighty bless us all with health and vigor. 


Thankfully I’ve spent quality time with our staff, as we move forward towards AISHVision 2030. I am excited to report that we have some major releases online soon to come. I also had the pleasure of speaking to our Aish Ambassadors Leadership BootCamp, a program where our future leaders meet with a variety of inspirational leaders who can guide them in finding their unique place in changing the world. I shared my approach to structuring an organization and walked them through the revitalization of Aish over the past six and a half years. I tried to give them an insider’s view of how Aish went from an 8 million dollar organization with debt burdens, to the 20 million dollar organization it is today, firing on all cylinders. It was truly the highlight of my week! 


Last Shabbos I had the pleasure of attending the Bar Mitzvah of Noam Brody in Far Rockaway. Noam’s parents, Josh and Aviva, are incredible role models of precisely this kind of leadership, the epitome of what Rav Noah Weinberg, zt’l always referred to as “Aish partners.” I was introduced to Josh Brody many years ago by my good friend, Charlie Harary, as someone who truly cares about the Jewish people. Aside from being a successful bankruptcy attorney, Josh has taken many trips to Israel with Aish’s Project Inspire and has continued studying with dozens of Jewish men from all over New York.  Aviva attended Aish’s Destiny trip to Israel for women and was so inspired that she became the co-director of the program. She is the co-founder of SoulFood, an ongoing women’s weekly learning program.

My favorite part of the Bar Mitzvah was when each of their older sons spoke about their parents dedication to reaching out to their Jewish brothers and sisters with an emphasis on the fact that these were unpaid positions. The lack of salary part was partly said in jest and mostly intended in a sense of pride. 

Josh and Aviva serve in important positions for the Jewish people which require massive amounts of time. And the remuneration is knowing that this is what the Almighty wants them to do. This is exactly what Aish Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yitzchak Berkovits is describing when he talks about Aish Partners. This is what we mean when we talk about the Aish family. We are all in this together.

I want to close with one more Aish story from this week. An Aish staff member was walking in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter when an Aish student approached him and asked if he needed anyone to help clean for Pesach. The student explained that cleaning homes is one of the ways he manages to make ends meet while in Israel. Shortly afterwards, the two of them met up again in the local makolet (mini-market) where the student was loading up his cart with all types of cakes and junk food. The staffer asked if he was planning a party, and the student explained that was exactly what he intended to do. He had just finished studying Ethics of our Fathers (Pirkei Avos) for the first time and he was making a siyum (a celebration of completion). Knowing his financial circumstances, the staffer asked how he was paying for all of this. The student replied that he had saved up money from cleaning houses. Without a second thought, the staffer pulled out his credit card and insisted on paying for all of the treats.



My friends, being a family means that we are emotionally and spiritually tethered together in a way that transcends logic. Josh and Aviva Brody are working second, unpaid, full time jobs for the Jewish Nation. This Aish staffer did what any of us would do for our children. Yet he did it for an Aish student who he had just met. The world doesn’t really understand why the Jewish Nation is indestructible and invincible. It is because of one word. Family. That is why I always refer to you as the Aish family. There just isn’t any greater compliment I can give you than that. May our Father in Heaven continue to bless us with the deepest love for one another.

father’s legacy and making us all proud.