Message from the
Desk of Rabbi Steven Burg
Dear Aish Family,
I am always amazed by the unique impact one can have from Jerusalem. As I travel and meet with Jews everywhere, I always talk about Aish and our incredible location. Being across from the Western Wall gives us the most recognizable headquarters in the world. So many, regardless of background, recognize the beautiful “Wall” of the Jewish people.
I was meeting this past week with a very special Jew and as usual Aish’s geography came up. He immediately responded that he knew exactly where we were. I was a little surprised given that earlier in the conversation he spoke about his lack of knowledge of anything Jewish. He told me that when he served in the US military, he wound up with some time off in the Middle East and traveled with some friends to Jerusalem.
He said they found themselves at the Western Wall by chance on a Friday afternoon and the place was hopping. Before he knew it, someone asked them if they had dinner plans and offered to set them up for a meal. He and his friends decided to accept the invitation and had a beautiful Shabbat dinner. He said it was his only real meaningful Jewish experience in his life, and the kindness of that family is still with him.
I was amazed by the story and asked if he remembered who set him up for the meal. He started to describe the person and I started suggesting names. He immediately recognized Jeff Seidel’s name all these years later. He said that he was impressed by how much the Rabbi knew about sports, and that he would never forget his kindness.
We ended our conversation, which we both agreed would not be our last. I was moved and even more impressed with my good friend and colleague, Jeff Seidel, who works tirelessly for the Jewish people. Jeff is a fixture at the Western Wall. He never rests from his mission to connect young Jews to their roots. Every Friday night you can spot Jeff finding meals for Jews who don’t know what Shabbos is. For many, this is their only positive Jewish experience.
Next week is the annual “Shabbos Project.” Since 2013 my good friend, Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein has brought Shabbos to the world from South Africa. It started as a basic concept of Jews inviting Jews for Shabbos and has become a global phenomenon. Now is a crucial time for the Jewish Nation. As we climb out of Covid which painfully has kept us from each other, we must return to being the most hospitable people in the world. Take the time to watch the video on their website.
Let’s make next Shabbos an event to make the Almighty proud.
Rabbi Steven Burg