Message from the
Desk of Rabbi Steven Burg
Dear Aish Family,
As an organization that has existed for over 45 years, Aish has impacted millions of Jews. In the course of any given week, I meet so many folks who tell me how Aish has genuinely made a difference in their lives and those of their families. Sometimes when we set out on an awesome goal like AISHVision 2030 to impact 3 million Jews it is important to keep track of the individual journeys to keep us focused.
I had the honor this week of spending Shabbat at Camp Kaylie. The camp is named for legendary philanthropists Harvey ZT”L and Gloria Kaylie who were powerhouses of creative giving. This camp was created by the massive Jewish social service organization Ohel, as a unique initiative to blend average campers whom you would find at any camp with campers who have challenges. This concept of inclusion gives every child the chance to shine.
So many staffers came over to me to tell me how influential Aish has been in their lives. Whether through our Yeshiva or Aish.com it seemed that we had touched everyone. My favorite conversation was with the indefatigable CEO of Ohel, David Mandel. David told me that years ago he went to Aish to understand what it was that we do. He said that he spent a few days attending our classes and got to meet Rabbi Noach Weinberg, zt”l. David remarked that by the end he got it. He appreciated how Aish was able to help Jews become passionate about their religion. There was nothing like sitting with young men and women who clearly had no Jewish background and listening to the sharp and compelling questions that they asked. Better still were the crisp answers they received.
I had this in mind when the next day I went to a financial meeting. I started to talk to the person who was involved in this transaction when he asked me what I do. I told him I was the CEO of Aish. He looked at me and said, “You saved my life.” Thirty years ago he was a Jew for whom Judaism was fairly meaningless when a friend told him that he should take the Aish Discovery seminar. Once he completed the course, he knew there was a G-d and he started to make Judaism central to his life. Ultimately, he married a wonderful woman and together they raised children who are Jewishly literate. He looked at me and said, “Without Aish, we would all be sitting around the Friday night table staring at our phones instead of singing Jewish songs.”
We should all feel good about Aish’s massive impact on the Jewish nation over the past decades. We are part of a movement that has lit the fire in countless Jewish hearts. Yet, we still have much work to do. We cannot rest on our laurels. There are 3 million Jews that we have to introduce to the beauty of their heritage in the next ten years. Join Aish as we intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally engage the next generation of our Jewish brothers and sisters.
Rabbi Steve Burg