Warm regards from a packed Israel. All week I have been amazed by how many people are back in Israel and stopping by Aish. We have had so many visitors from around the world, including many who are here to compete in the Maccabiah Games.
Every day groups are coming speaking so many different languages. I had the honor of meeting a group of Italian Parliament members on the Aish rooftop. They were in Israel for the first time to understand Israel’s challenges. They said they were amazed by what they had seen in Israel and would bring a fresh perspective back to Italy.
It was particularly moving to be a part of a ceremony at Har Herzl. Har Herzl is the largest Jewish military cemetery in the world. There are so many Jewish heroes buried there who gave their lives to defend the Jewish Nation. It is one of the most special places in all of Israel. I urge all of you to visit when you come. Rafael Cohen, Director of Har Herzl and Director of Foreign Relations for the WZO, invited me to attend a ceremony with the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik.
President Dodik had a busy and full schedule while in Israel. Yet he said that paying his respects at Har Herzl was, in his eyes, the most important. There are so many countries in the world that are facing upticks in antisemitism. It is so important for us to continue to build relationships with political leaders to ensure their support of Israel and the Jews that live abroad. I am honored that Aish has and continues to contribute in a meaningful way to making this happen.
With all that as an introduction, I wanted to highlight an amazing Shabbos that I was able to be a part of this past week. Last Shabbos, twelve couples got together in a rented home in Chester, NY, for a Shabbos like none other. There was singing and words of Torah throughout. Jews who had never shared a Torah thought in public before gave thoughtful and insightful lessons to the group. All phones and electronics were put away so the group could focus on each other and the Almighty.
The backstory to this amazing Shabbos is that as the pandemic raged, the creators of SoulFood, a class for women to share food and Jewish wisdom, moved to zoom. At first, classes were heavy on recipes and food demonstrations. Eventually, classes morphed into the sharing of spiritual recipes and the many metaphysical meanings behind everything we do in Judaism. There were a number of women who had come closer to their Jewish roots who were intimidated to host others for a Shabbos meal. In the larger world, months of preparation go into hosting a Thanksgiving meal. Jewish families operate on that level every week.
The women who attend the SoulFood classes had taken a very ‘Aish journey’ together. Most had joined Aish’s Project Inspire on a mission with Momentum, (formerly known as JWRP). Momentum is a phenomenal organization created by Aish Alumni in the spirit of Rav Noach Weinberg, zt’l, to instill a love of Judaism and Israel in women from all over the world. As the world re-opened, the women began to discuss getting together to put all they had learned into practice.
I was blessed to be able to address the group at the closing of Shabbos. I told them that this was what AISHVision 2030 was all about and that they all had a responsibility to step up and become leaders because their journey has empowered them in every way possible.
My friends, Judaism is about sharing a journey together. It’s not just about Rabbis and Rebbetzins. Every Jew can make a difference. You can make a difference. We must all open our homes for Shabbos and each other. We must share Jewish wisdom with the world. I see clearly from all the political interactions that I have daily that the world needs the message of the Jews. Tikkun Olam, fixing the world, means sharing the Almighty’s wisdom and sensitivity with all of humanity. Whether it is from a rooftop in the Old City of Jerusalem or a home in Chester, New York. Let us all commit to showing each other what a powerful change agent for the good we can be.