At the initiative of Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, rabbi of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, and member Jack Forgash, three dynamic rabbis on staff at the international kiruv organization Aish HaTorah will be spending Shabbat Parshat Terumah, February 8-9, in Teaneck. Inspired by what they saw at the Dan Family Aish HaTorah Center in the Old City of Jerusalem during last year’s Yom Ha’atzmaut Mission, the decision was made to bring Aish to Teaneck and its environs. Throughout Shabbat, presentations will be delivered by Aish rabbis Moshe Zeidman, Nachman Elsant and Miles Kerr-Jarret. On Sunday morning, February 10, the renowned Aish Discovery Seminar will be offered free of charge at Bnai Yeshurun. The hope is that it will draw a large attendance from throughout Bergen County.
Founded in 1974 by the young Rabbi Noach Weinberg and four backpackers, Aish HaTorah currently hosts 35 branches worldwide, sponsors hundreds of missions to Israel and offers vast online learning opportunities. Rabbi Weinberg’s mission of “igniting Jewish passion and empowering every Jew to embrace their heritage, thereby ensuring the vibrant continuity of the Jewish people” is being fulfilled daily through its headquarters in Yerushalayim to outposts throughout the globe. Graduates of Aish HaTorah’s more than 100,000 yearly seminars, through its more than a dozen diversified programs targeting high school youth through professional adults, have gone on to implement the knowledge and passion they have garnered from their participation in the programs. Rabbis in over 100 communities worldwide are graduates of an Aish program.
Rabbi Steven Burg, director general (mankal) of Aish, who splits his time between Jerusalem and Bergenfield, and Ariel Kotler, executive director of Aish, who is based in Jerusalem, both feel that the Shabbat in Teaneck and the ensuing Discovery Seminar will “initiate the thrust outside of Israel to re-ignite latent sparks as well as provide cogent responses for young students as well as professional adults who are constantly being challenged regarding their religious beliefs and political affiliations.” The Teaneck Shabbat is one of the first in the New Jersey area to bring the Discovery Seminar out of Israel.
Rivka Szafranski, who recently joined the Aish family as a campaign executive, shared that over 40 young Aish alumni from around the country, mostly young men and a few couples, will be joining the Aish rabbis over Shabbat and sharing their personal Aish experiences and how they have impacted their Jewish lives. Throughout the Shabbat, the three Aish rabbis will take turns addressing the community. The rabbis and alumni will be hosted by local families, thus enabling them to engage with community members on a personal level.
Rabbi Moshe Zeldman, who will also be presenting the Discovery Seminar on Sunday morning, has lectured on a wide variety of Jewish topics in over 20 countries around the world. He teaches Jewish philosophy at the Aish HaTorah Yeshiva to both beginners and advanced students. He is also the the founder of Aish’s Core 18 Leaders’ Lab for Jewish Social Entrepreneurs and the director of education for the Jewessence Women’s Center.
Rabbi Nachman Elsant is a rebbe and educational director at Gesher. He is a sought-after teacher of Gemara and Agadata. In addition, he is well known for his shiurim on Halacha and lectures on character development and the six constant mitzvot. Rabbi Elsant is the visionary behind Aish’s chesed and kiruv activities. He earned his semicha at YU’s RIETS and Wexner Semicha Honors Programs. He is known to many as a popular rebbe at the NCSY Summer Kollel Program.
Rabbi Miles Kerr-Jarrett serves as the director of admissions at Aish HaTorah. Born in Jamaica in the Caribbean and educated in England and the U.S., Rabbi Kerr-Jarrett has traveled widely, including mastering Mandarin in China over the course of two years. He holds a BA in literature and philosophy from Boston College. His hobbies include brewing beer out of his Jerusalem apartment and preparing traditional “jerk” chicken for his family’s many Shabbat guests. Rabbi Kerr-Jarrett spent six years studying Jewish law and philosophy at Aish HaTorah, which “sparked his passion for sharing the depths and beauty of Judaism with others.”
The community is invited to participate in this exciting Aish event on February 8-10. For more information, please contact Rivka Szafranski at [email protected] or 646-438-2831.
By Pearl Markovitz