AISH HATORAH


AISH HATORAH, outreach organization based in Jerusalem, Israel, and housed in a building facing the Western Wall, directly above the plaza. It was founded by American-born rabbi Noah Weinberger in 1974. Weinberger had grown up on Manhattan's Lower East Side, where he was raised in an Orthodox home and was proud of his mother's involvement in the establishment of the Esther Schoenfeld Beth Jacob School for Girls. He saw his mission as fighting assimilation and answering the question, "Why be Jewish?" His strategy involved the use of high technology and powerful and media-savvy business executives and celebrities to help send out his institution's message. It operates 26 full-time branches and offers programs in 80 cities, representing 17 countries on five continents and attended by 100,000 people annually in addition to the 4,500 students who study at Aish Jerusalem every year. Over 175 people have graduated from the rabbinic program and have gone to North America to do outreach work.

Aish Programs

DISCOVERY

A one-day program that explores the rational basis for Jewish belief and practice. More than 100,000 people worldwide have attended the Discovery program. Guest hosts for these seminars have included American entertainers Ed *Asner, Kirk *Douglas, Elliot *Gould, Joel *Grey, and Jason *Alexander. Aish instructors conduct hundreds of related seminars in cities around the world, including Johannesburg, London, Sydney, Melbourne, Santiago, and Jerusalem, as well as in 45 U.S. cities for university campuses, Jewish community centers, and Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox synagogues.

THE EXECUTIVE LEARNING PROGRAM

Successful men and women of all ages participate in individually designed personal study programs in their homes and offices. With limited free time, and often with limited background in Judaism, hundreds of busy executives find a way to fit Torah study into their active lives. Among those who participate are Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman-Sachs International, and Michael Goldstein, CEO of Toys R Us.

THE ISRAEL EXPERIENCE

The 4,500 people participating in Aish Jerusalem programs in Israel attend the Discovery Seminar; the one-month Essentials for men or JEWEL for women; introductory programs; and the Jerusalem Fellowships. The latter was founded in 1985 by senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Arlen Spector. The program combines touring Israel, studying Judaism, and meeting Israel's top leadership from across the political spectrum.

EYAHT COLLEGE OF JEWISH STUDIES FOR WOMEN

Rebbetzin Denah Weinberg founded the school in 1990 to empower Jewish women.

THE RUSSIAN PROGRAM

This reaches over 50,000 people in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), plus another 3.5 million viewers through its popular television series. In Moscow, Aish runs the Intellectual Cafe, a bimonthly seminar teaching Talmud to beginners through a logic game. Aish-FSU has four permanent branches, including one accredited college.

In Israel, Aish created a social action organization, AVIV, which provides legal, medical, and social services to aid Russian Jews after they make aliyah. Aish has also created a series for Radio Reka, the immigrant radio station that has 200,000 listeners in Israel and one million in Russia.

HIGH TECH AND JERUSALEM FUND MISSIONS TO ISRAEL

The Albert Einstein High Tech Mission brings leaders of hi-tech industry to Israel to meet their peers and explore potential investments, strategic partnerships, and spirituality in the Holy Land. Companies who have participated include the founders, CEOS, or presidents of AOL, Infospace, Ness, National Semiconductor, Computer Associates, IDT, Drugstore.com, ZDNet, StarTek, Net2Phone, The Red Herring, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Scient, Disney Internet, Akamai, and ATT.com.

THE THEODOR HERZL MISSION

Co-sponsored with the mayor of Jerusalem, it brings world leaders from across the world to Israel for one week. Participants have included Lady Margaret Thatcher, U.S. senators John Kerry, Harry Reid, and Joseph Biden, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Congressman Peter Deutsch, Governors Tom Ridge (PA) and Christine Whitman (NJ), philanthropist Carroll Petrie, Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz, Barry Sternlicht, chairman of Starwood Hotels, the world's largest hotel company, Starbuck's Howard Schultz, and Accuweather president Joel Meyer.

THE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN

Aish HaTorah is building a hi-tech Jewish education center incorporating state of the art Internet, video, computer, and satellite hook-ups. The Kirk Douglas Theater, dedicated by the Hollywood legend, will present a film about the Jewish contribution to humanity. Aish also acquired several sites in the Old City, projected for use as classrooms, dormitories, and offices.

AISH.COM

With its 1,000,000 hits a year, the site is user-friendly, hi-speed, and full of information and contact numbers about all of its programs.

[Jeanette Friedman (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.