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The Next CEO of Aish is…

Having an address like One Western Wall Plaza has its benefits. This week was Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim) when we celebrate Jewish sovereignty over all of Jerusalem that came about in modern days with Israel’s miraculous victory in the Six-Day War. From 1948 until 1967, any Jew caught in the Old City of Jerusalem would have been killed. Today all religions can walk freely throughout the Old City of Jerusalem. Watching from the roof of the Dan Family Aish World Center as thousands of young Jews danced and sang in unison was electrifying. It is a privilege to have the Aish headquarters in such a special spiritual place. 


The celebrations at the Kotel on Yom Yerushalayim.


This past week we had incredibly important strategic planning meetings in Jerusalem. Since Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, our Rosh Yeshiva and spiritual leader, introduced AISHVision 2030 three and a half years ago we have been constantly tweaking and refining our approach. It is not an easy task to target 20% of the worldwide Jewish population. Our goal has always been constant striving to assist three million Jews make Jewish wisdom a core part of their lives.


Strategy meetings at the Dan Family Aish World Center in Jerusalem.


As many of you know, our original strategy was to connect to marginally affiliated Jews through social media. Led by the outstanding team of Jamie Geller and Rabbi Elliot Mathias, we smashed every projection we had in that realm. In just under three years, we have amassed four million followers. That does not even include what gets shared by our followers with others. We have also surpassed one million daily video views of our content! These early wins led to the creation of the Aish Community Project.

Aish has begun building and is currently beta testing an online community that would create a safe, inspirational space for Jews to connect to one another and study with some of the top Jewish educators in the world. Our conversations this week were very exciting as we embark on this next phase. Yet, one question came up frequently. How do we assign the appropriate resources to achieve our objectives? In essence, we are now doing two things. On the one hand we are spreading to millions a lighter touch of Jewish wisdom at the top of the funnel. On the other hand, we are building an exciting, deep-dive, online community, which will be more substantive but in all probability have less participants.


Aish Staff and Leadership discussing the next steps that the organization will be taking to build the future of the Jewish people.


This discussion was passionate and robust. As the CEO, in conjunction with my COO Hillel Scheinfeld, and Board Members, I ultimately have to make some hard choices in terms of allocating resources. The reason I am sharing this with all of you is because I consider you to be my community. I have written this email every week for almost nine years. So many of you have written the most beautiful responses to my emails. As Ben Zoma says in Pirkei Avot, “Who is a wise person, one who learns from every person.” You are my community. So I want to ask, how do you think we should approach this issue? As I tell you often, every response comes directly to my mailbox so please let me know, I would love to hear from you.

On my way to the airport, I had the honor of addressing amazing young women at Michlalah Jerusalem College. The prestigious school was having an educational day of different speakers discussing the Jewish world and the exciting role that these young women will play in it. I cannot properly put into words how energizing it was to speak to a room with over 100 young women who care about the Almighty and the future of the Jewish Nation. So many of us have focused on the antisemitism on campuses in North America that it has become depressing. Sometimes we need a shot in the arm to carry on our work.


Rabbi Steven Burg addressing students at Michlalah Jerusalem College.


Between the thousands of young Jews dancing in the Kotel plaza this week and the thousands of young Jews studying in yeshivas and seminaries across Israel I am proud to report that the Jewish people have a bright future ahead of us. The next generation is ready to fight for Jewish values. They are ready to love, lead, and learn. Every room I walk into that is filled with young Jews, I see the next CEO of Aish. My friends, we have a glorious future ahead of us. Let’s continue to work hard to make it as bright and as glorious as we can.