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AISH ATTENDS JEWISH AGENCY'S BOARD OF GOVERNOR'S MEETING




By RABBI STEVEN BURG


Dear Aish Family,


One of the issues that consistently comes up in conversation with leaders in Israel is the connection between the Jews of Israel and the Jews of the diaspora. Anyone who has visited Israel knows that there is a different vibe in Israel than the rest of the world. Sometimes much is lost in translation when trying to create unity between Jews worldwide.

I was honored to attend the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors meetings this week. Unfortunately, they were on zoom as many had a hard time attending in person due to corona restrictions. I sit on a variety of committees for the Jewish Agency and at almost every meeting the widening gap between Israel and the diaspora is raised. Increasingly, many diaspora youth do not view themselves as having any connection to Israel, and concern over this reality continues to grow.

I had a chance to meet with and discuss these issues with a number of friends this week. Among them, WZO Chairman and Jewish Agency Interim Chairman Yaakov HaGoel, Michal Cotler Wunsh, former Knesset member and current head of the Nefesh B'Nefesh Institute for Aliya Strategy & Policy, and Fleur Hassan Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. In all of these conversations we discussed the challenge of connecting Jews to Israel.

In essence, one can frame the question as whether we are a nation or a religion. Perhaps we are just a religion and one can practice Judaism anywhere in the world but not necessarily be compelled to be a part of a greater people. Or maybe Israel is just a nation-state, which is geographically designated, and if you leave the country, you can opt out.

It is imperative that we understand that we are both a nation and a religion. First and foremost, Jews are connected by the Torah that was given to us by the Almighty. This has been our bond for thousands of years. The Bible clearly sets out our relationship to the land of Israel which spans 3500 years. Yet being a religion is not enough. We are also a Nation. A nation of Jews who must care for each other no matter where we live in the world.

As we are witnessing today, without our spiritual bond we are losing a connection with our youth. So much so, that tragically some Jews have even taken to attacking Israel to demonstrate just how unconnected they are to their brothers and sisters. We must reach every young Jew around the world and let them know that they are crucial to the continuity of their Jewish family. Once we have that spiritual bond, we will undoubtedly look out for and support each other.

With the rise in global antisemitism, it has never been more important to create Jewish unity. We are a small yet proud nation. We have always pulled through no matter what horror has been thrown at us. We do this by standing shoulder to shoulder with each other and our Father in Heaven.

We must reach out to every Jew around the world and make sure they know that we are one family and we will always be there for each other. In this way we can loudly and passionately declare.  The nation of Israel lives!

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Shalom,

Rabbi Steve Burg
CEO, Aish Global

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                    MURDERED 31 YEARS AGO -

                            BUT STILL MY REBBE





By RABBI SHMULY YANKLOWITZ

There are those who teach with words and there are those who teach with actions. The best teacher, however, is one who teaches with words followed by actions! This is the reason why I loved Rabbi Meir Kahane so much and why he is my guiding force – to this very day.

He taught us the importance of redeeming captives by explaining the Torah and the Talmud… and then by leading us into the streets to free 3,000,000 Jews who were imprisoned in the former Soviet Union.

He taught us about Jewish strength from Shimon and Levi to King David and then led us in battle against vicious anti-Semites making sure we did to them what they wanted to do to us.

He taught us the Halacha -yes, the Halacha – of Arabs living in the modern State of Israel and then did the best he could to make those Halachot as real as keeping kosher.

Rav Kahane was my Rebbe, and I thank HaShem for giving me the opportunity to learn from him personally. My wife knew him even before I did and was a strong and proud member of the Jewish Defense League as well. When we made Aliyah in July 1990, we went to our Rebbe, with our kids, on the first Motzei Shabbat we could. We proudly told him we had followed him to Israel, and we were ready to help his dreams become a reality. Sadly, an assassin’s bullet ended those dreams just 4 months later…

In the last 31 years, his words have become truer than ever. His books and videos are more popular today than ever before and people are finally understanding his warnings and predictions. How many times did he speak about the dangerous Arabs inside Israel… the ones who are citizens of the State? Most Jewish leaders and Rabbonim told their followers not to listen to those “extreme words”. Yet, need I remind you of the horrific riots just a few months ago – by Israeli Arabs - in cities such as Lod, Jaffa, Ramle, Akko and Jerusalem?

Rabbi Kahane never ran away from controversial subjects. He spoke about intermarriage in America and what must be done to stop it… yet very few listened to him. Today, intermarriage is out of control. He spoke about the weakness of Reform Jewry, the dangers of missionary cults, and the lack of Jewish identity. While 99% of Orthodox Rabbis were teaching in ways that the youth (and most adults) could not relate to, Rabbi Kahane was teaching us with fire and brimstone! His words ignited our souls… but he wasn’t finished. “A Jewish head is not enough,” he used to say. “One needs a Jewish fist attached to a Jewish head!” – He taught us that as well!

Yes, he was controversial… but that’s exactly what the Jewish world needs. Of course, we need to study and master Halacha. We need to know TaNaCH, Halacha, Rambam, Mishna/Talmud plus Midrash, the Biblical commentaries and more. Rabbi Kahane started his day at 4am and studied these subjects for 3 hours – every day of the year! The key point, however, is that Judaism is more than that. People today – especially the youth – are lost. They have no direction because their Rabbonim refuse to discuss “controversial subjects”.

Question: What does the Torah say about transferring Arabs?
Answer by Rabbis today: That’s not for us to discuss.

Question: Is it permitted to trade land for peace?
Answer by Rabbis today: We don’t discuss politics in the Yeshiva or shul. (Note: I have more respect for a Rav who gives a 3-hour shiur on why you can give away land – even though I vehemently oppose it – than a Rav who refuses to answer the question)

Question: I am going into the IDF. If given an order to throw Jews out of their homes, must I listen or can I disobey those orders?
Answer by Rabbis today: That’s a question for the IDF Rabbi, not me…

Question: I live in New York, Chicago, Toronto etc… and anti-Semitism is growing. Can our community form a security/defense team to protect Jews and teach these haters a lesson they will never forget?
Answer by Rabbis today: We don’t deal with those issues. The police will protect us.

I could go on and on with another 50 questions, but you get the point.

Rabbi Kahane gave us these answers… and most of them were not “politically correct” … but they were “Jewishly correct!” Baruch HaShem, through his prolific writing career we have his words and guidance on exactly what to do. Thanks to YouTube and the internet, and some wonderful and faithful students, you can watch hundreds of hours of his Torah classes, debates, and speeches. This is why, even 31 years after his tragic murder, I say that he is still my Rebbe. His words, actions and Torah guide me and my family to this very day and I urge everyone reading this article to do the same.

May Rabbi Kahane’s memory be a blessing for his wife, his entire family and the Nation of Israel he loved so much.

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Shmuel Sackett
Founder and Director
Am Yisrael Chai Foundation

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