This past Shabbos I found myself in Jerusalem. Though not a planned trip, when I heard the news that Rebbetzin Weinberg had passed away, I knew I needed to go to Jerusalem. I wanted to make sure that her family knew how much Aish appreciated and loved her. Indeed, no one sacrificed more for Aish or worked harder to build our organization than Rebbetzin Weinberg. Incredibly, she still managed to raise twelve beautiful children while playing a pivotal role at Aish.
I want to relate two instances that occurred over my unexpected Shabbos in Jerusalem which truly inspired me. On Friday night I was in our yeshiva where our extraordinary Aish Gesher program was having a Shabbaton. A few hours before Shabbos, Rabbi Dov Ber Cohen returned from England where he was visiting with his father who is ill. (Please include Yosef ben Menucha in your prayers.) Rabbi Cohen was asked if he could still come to speak to our students. He said he would put his children to sleep and see if he could make it.
At 11pm Friday night, after the program had finished, in walked Rabbi Cohen. He proceeded to give an incredibly inspirational talk about his father, intertwining it with Jewish wisdom. As if that wasn’t enough, Rabbi Dov Ber stayed in the Beis Medrash (study hall) until 2:30 in the morning speaking with our students. Here was a sweet Jew dealing with family illness who had every right to stay at home focused on his family’s challenge. Yet, he chose to help his fellow Jews grow in their dedication to the Almighty. Truly breathtaking.
I spent Saturday night in the Weinberg home with the amazing Weinberg children. As I was sitting with Rabbi Yehuda Weinberg, he told me that I have to see his mother’s siddur (prayer book). As someone passed the siddur to him, he began to show me her handwritten notes. Line after line the Rebbetzin was privately challenging herself to go deeper in her commitment to the Almighty. After many phrases she would write: “Do I really believe this” and “Do I really feel this.” This was not a book written for anyone but herself. Rebbetzin Weinberg was so committed to her personal growth, in service to the Almighty, that she challenged herself on every page of her siddur. It is a truly remarkable document.
Both of these stories reminded me how grateful I am to be a part of the incredible Aish family; Rabbi Dov Ber Cohen’s dedication to his students in the face of adversity, and Rebbetzin Weinberg’s personal dedication to her spiritual growth. This is our philosophy at Aish; taking responsibility for ourselves and others. I walked away from the weekend with renewed dedication and understanding of the mission before us. There is no doubt that as we say farewell to Rebbetzin Weinberg, her legacy is ensured at an institution with Rabbi Dov Ber Cohen leading the way.