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Monday, July 15, 2013


If location, location and location are the three  most important points in real estate, then Aish HaTorah’s Jerusalem World Center must have the world’s most prime spot.
Situated opposite the Kotel, the Western Wall, the remaining wall of the Temple which stood closest to the Holy of Holies of the  Temple, this beautiful new building is put to tremendous use.
Anyone, male, female, young, mature, from anywhere in the world is invited to drop in and  join a class or two, or three  of the constantly ongoing ‘Essentials’ program, just to get a taste of their Jewish heritage. No prior booking is needed.
Entrance is from the Jewish Quarter, off Misgav Ledach street and the classes take place on this entrance floor.
You don’t even have to take a class, you can just walk in and sit down and relax in the beautiful a/c  rooms.
You can also  take  the opportunity to watch some of the videos of the teachings of Aish’s dean and founder, Rabbi Noah Weinberg who passed away in 2009 a short time before the opening of the new center. Thousands of young Jews owe their Jewish identities to Rabbi Weinberg who gave his entire life to helping Jewish kids ( and not so kids) realize what pleasure, fun, inner peace and excitement they were missing by not learning about their Jewish heritage.

Look up and savor the incredible  glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly, the most successful and talented glass artist in the world. Entitled, “Fire and Water,” the multi-dimensional, two-story-tall sculpture encompasses the name of Aish HaTorah ( Fire of the Torah)

If you go up to the roof, apart from a breathtaking panoramic view of Jerusalem , the Kotel

DSC05696 and the surrounding hills such as Mount of Olives and  Mount Scopus …

there is also a  1.2-ton model of the Holy Temple .
It is constructed at a scale of 1:60, built with  authentic materials like gold, silver, wood and Jerusalem stone.
As we approach the Fast of the  9th of Av, the date of the destruction of both of our Holy Temples, there couldn’t be a better time to decide to learn what it is we are mourning and missing.
For more information about Aish click here.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

YAD VASHEM– Still so much to learn and remember

Yad Vashem in Jerusalem is the Jewish People’s living memorial to the Holocaust.
It safeguards the memory of those who were slaughtered and teaches future generations about the unspeakable horrors.

Many people think that if they’ve visited it once then there’s no point in going again – but they are so wrong. The area that Yad Vashem covers both physically and emotionally, is vast and there are new exhibits constantly being organized.
On a recent visit I saw  the shul/ synagogue.
Apart from being used for regular prayers it is also used for people who want a place to say  Kaddish, or to sit down and pray after an emotional visit.

It contains various items of Judaica from shuls all over Europe including  four Arks for storing the Sifrei Torah which all came from Rumania and were procured for Yad Vashem with the help of  Rumanian government.


Next door to the shul is a new exhibit to honor the Righteous Amongst the Nations who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
Capture 2

Inside there are five areas with seating to watch different films depicting the different ways in which people were saved, including those who took in children and returned them to the Jewish authorities after the war, those who hid families in cellars, countries where someone in the the government intervened and rescued them and those where both the Jews and the non-Jews were discovered by the Nazis and killed.

The stories are both fascinating and very moving and shed a new light on the history of Jews saved by Gentiles.

We then visited the new Learning Centre also known as the “Center for Major Questions Arising from the Holocaust,” which attempts to discuss and give opinions on  the many  theological, societal and military questions raised by the Holocaust.


Some are just not answerable, i.e. Why did G’d let the Holocaust happen, but are still discussed. Others are given a selection of answers from various appropriate people / authorities, i.e. Why did the Allied Air Force not bomb the tracks to Auschwitz.


Yad Vashem has also launched a new more urgent collection of personal items that are, or were,  in the possession of survivors. Our guide told us many stories of items that children of survivors thought were of not much interest, but for others provided an only link to their parents/ grandparents who perished.

Yad Vashem works very hard to trace people ( or their descendents) mentioned in letters/ notebooks or identified on photos it receives.

As Eli Wiesel once said- Anyone who listens to a witness, becomes a  witness himself.