Message from the
Desk of Rabbi Steven Burg
Dear Aish Family,
We miss you in Jerusalem! This has been the case throughout the last eighteen months, but I feel your frustration mounting. The end is near, but it is still growing increasingly difficult to see when the traveling restrictions will be lifted. Accordingly, Aish Executive Director Rabbi Ben Gonsher set up a zoom call yesterday so we could speak with Dr. Asher Salmon, the Director of International Relations at Israel’s Ministry of Health. The response to attend that conversation was completely overwhelming. The yearning of all of our Jewish brothers and sisters to come to Israel is so evident. Please feel free to watch to the recorded program here.
Even though Israel remains largely closed to individual tourists, tour groups have been allowed to come for the past two months and thankfully many of them have been coming to the Dan Family Aish World Center. We are excited to be inspiring and educating again.
A few weeks ago I received a WhatsApp message from my close friend, Ambassador Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN and the US letting me know he would be bringing a delegation of UN Ambassadors from around the world to Israel and asking if Aish would host them for a rooftop program and luncheon. I immediately told him that whatever he was going to ask regarding this AZM sponsored trip would be an automatic yes! As I have told all of you so many times, I refer to the Aish World Center as the UN of the Jewish people. This has never been so literally true as this past week!
We brought the ambassadors to the roof for pictures and a brief lesson about the history and spiritual significance of the Temple Mount from the Co-Founder of Aish Israel and inspirational phenomenon, Rabbi Etiel Goldwicht. There were many reporters at this part of the event and I was proud to hear Ambassador Erdan articulate to all of them the need for Israel to defend herself from those who would seek her destruction.
Our top-notch hospitality team arranged a beautiful spread for Aish’s new international friends. Long-time Aish partner Marc Oppenheimer officially welcomed the group and Rabbi Yehuda Weinberg talked about the purpose of Aish and his father’s vision. The interactions were absolutely terrific. We were lucky to have Aish Executive Board member Louis Mayberg and Aish Board Member Henry Siegel at the event, along with partners Jerry and Sora Wolasky. Louis told me afterward that he had some meaningful conversations with the Ambassadors and would be following up with Hungarian Ambassador to the United States, Szabolcs Ferenc Takacs when he returned home to Washington. The camaraderie and friendship were palpable. I was so proud to be the CEO of Aish.
As proud as I was, I couldn’t help reflecting on why so many around the world turn to Aish for leadership. I came to the conclusion that whether it’s a group of politicians, athletes, movie stars, students, IDF soldiers, doctors, lawyers, or business executives, everyone wants and needs to feel inspired. Life without passion is no life at all. So many intuitively know that something is different at the Western Wall. Something moves a person’s heart when they come to the point of connection to the Almighty. Aish positioned itself at the planetary wellspring of spirituality by design. Our job is to facilitate inspiration to all. Famous or anonymous, rich or poor, brilliant or average. Aish will always be here in Jerusalem waiting to inspire.
Rabbi Steve Burg