I hope all of you had a fun-filled, meaningful week of Chanukah celebrations. I was blessed to attend many celebrations throughout the holiday. Once again it was my honor to represent Aish at the White House Chanukah party. It has always been a personally meaningful event for me as I am so thankful for the freedom of religion that we have as Jews in America. The new Jewish Liaison to the White House Shelley Greenspan did a wonderful job coordinating the party. The highlight for me generally has always been praying with a minyan (quorum) there.
This year towards the beginning of the party, I was speaking with my good friend Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, who recently lost his father. He mentioned that he needed to make sure he had a minyan to say kaddish (prayer for mourners). As I heard that, I turned to my other good friend, Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph, Executive VP and COO of the Orthodox Union and said, “Let’s pull together a minyan right now.” Rabbi Joseph and I both lost our fathers in the last two years, so it was especially meaningful for us to help facilitate a minyan for kaddish.
It felt like I was back at the Kotel as we started to ask eligible Jews if they could help us make the minyan. Soon enough we gathered the group and Rabbi Berman led the prayers in a side room. After praying, I told Rabbi Berman what an honor this had been for his father’s neshama (soul). It was an amazing moment where even as we were gathered in the most powerful seat of government in the world we reminded ourselves that the Almighty is ultimately the most powerful Ruler.
The topic of the night was the dramatic increase of antisemitism over the past few years on the streets of America. More than a few people told me that they had read my recent Op-Ed and agreed with my thesis. I wrote and also spoke on TV about the need to educate young Jews. We need more Jews to fight back on behalf of the Jewish people, yet most young Jews have no idea of what they should be fighting for. They lack the passion and conviction of how important Judaism is for them personally, or for the world at large. Judaism plays no role in the daily lives of over 70% of American Jewry. Imagine if we could inspire these Jews to live passionate Jewish lives. Our nation would be so much stronger.
At Aish we focus every day on seeking out ALL of our Jewish brothers and sisters to connect them to their God-given heritage. To connect them to wisdom that can improve and enhance their lives. To light the pathway for the world towards an ethical and moral existence.
I know that so many of you are now making charitable decisions regarding your philanthropy. The beauty of the secular calendar is that December is the biggest giving month of the year. Please partner with Aish in lighting up the world for Jews who otherwise would not have the beauty of Judaism in their lives. You can contribute online at here. Thank you for your continued love and support as together we create a worldwide culture of Jewish learning and wisdom.