Wow!!! What a week. As you know, every year we run our exciting and, thanks to all of you, wildly successful Aish Amplify campaign. This year we set a seemingly outsized goal to raise $4 million in 3 days. Thankfully, we reached our goal. Ironically, this campaign is only partly about the money. The unity of purpose and mission that the campaign brings to our organization is just as important. Our students call their friends, families and Aish partners and share with them how much our movement has changed their lives. Young men and women who last year did not have Judaism on their radar screen are deep in passionate conversations extolling the virtues of bringing Jewish wisdom to Jews everywhere. Simply breathtaking…
While the campaign was in full steam, we hosted a very special event in New York. Rabbi Saj Freiberg who moved to Manhattan two years ago and launched Aish’s Jewish Wisdom Society, has been phenomenally successful bringing Jewish wisdom to so many Jews who hadn’t made Jewish study a part of their lives until they met Rabbi Saj. Part of the Jewish Wisdom Society network has been events with Jewish leaders. Recently we hosted Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan at the Siegel home for discussions about the future of Israel.
It was in this spirit that I was excited when I learned that my good friend Chief Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman of Ukraine would be in New York. I immediately called Rabbi Saj and asked if we could quickly put together a JWS event featuring Rabbi Azman. He agreed and contacted the Gerson family who readily agreed to host. Within a few days, reservations poured in and Jewish New Yorkers from all walks of life joined together to welcome Rabbi Azman.
As I introduced the Rabbi, I noted that one of the incredible things about being a Jew was the fact that Rabbi Azman who is Chabad and I, the head of Aish, representing two of the largest movements within the Jewish world, were here supporting each other to help Jews. The other incredible moment was during the presentation when Chaim Klimovitsky, who coordinated so much of the refugee assistance from Moldova stated how helpful United Hatzalah had been throughout. He did not know that his host Mark Gerson was the chairman of United Hatzalah!
The goal of the night was to bring awareness to the plight of the Jews still in Ukraine and to raise money for a Rabbi Azman’s organization which supplies 35,000 boxes of food monthly to Jews all around Ukraine. One would think that perhaps we had lost our minds. During the three days that Aish has our largest fundraiser of the year, we were also raising money for a different organization. Yet, that is exactly the beauty of Aish. It’s not just about us. It’s about the Jewish people.
My friends, we must always strive to rise above what divides us and passionately sprint towards that which unites us. In one night Aish publicly supported Chabad and United Hatzalah. We were thrilled to do so. There is nothing the Almighty desires more than to see His children united and showing love to one another. Being a part of Aish means seeking out ways to heal the world and build proverbial bridges all around us. Let us always strive to uplift each other in the pursuit of goodness in the world.