Rabbi Mitch Mandel
Executive Director of Aish Toronto
Rabbi Mitch Mandel is one of the founders of Aish Toronto. He received Rabbinic ordination from the Aish HaTorah College of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, where he was previously Director of the Basics Program. Rabbi Mandel is the author of Seder for the Soul and The Fulfillment Formula. He has lectured across North America on a variety of topics including Jewish Mysticism, Relationships, Parenting, Ethics, and Happiness. Rabbi Mandel has been the Executive Director of Aish Toronto since 2011.
In Our Communities
Rabbi and Rebbetzin Elisha Mandel
Rabbi Elisha Mandel is a native Torontonian and Fraidy was born in Brooklyn, NY. Elisha studied for 6 years in Aish Jerusalem and received his Rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Noach Weinberg, of blessed memory. He was a senior lecturer for the renowned Discovery program at Aish Jerusalem and has lectured to diverse audiences about Jewish philosophy and practice. Rabbi Elisha and Fraidy spearhead Aish Toronto’s efforts in Richmond Hill and Maple, the fastest growing Jewish community in North America. The Mandels offer personal home learning in small groups on a variety of topics- from Torah study to marriage classes, the Meaning of Shabbat and the Philosophy of Judaism.
The Aish Thornhill Community Shul
Rabbi and Rebbitzin Avram Rothman
Rabbi Rothman received his Rabbinic Ordination from Rabbi Yaakov Y. Ruderman of the renowned Ner Israel Rabbinical College of Baltimore. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and a Masters of Science in Guidance Counseling. Rabbi Rothman has been involved in rabbinics, outreach and Jewish education since 1981 as the Rabbi of Boulder, Colorado, and subsequently as Associate Executive Director of the Worcester Jewish Federation in Massachusetts. He moved to Toronto and was the Executive Director of Ohr Somayach Thornhill before assuming the position as Rabbi of the Shul.
The Village Shul and Aish HaTorah Learning Centre
Rabbi and Rebbetzin Ahron Hoch
Rabbi Hoch was one of the 5 founding Rabbis of Aish HaTorah Toronto in 1981. In 1991, he became Aish HaTorah’s Educational Director, a position he held until 2006. During that time the branch expanded, and built 3 communities, with over 8,000 people attending Aish annually. He re-oriented the branch in the nineties to focus on Young Adults 20+ and University students. Rabbi Hoch took over as Rabbi of The Village Shul and Aish HaTorah Learning Centre 10 years ago and eventually transitioned to full time Rabbi/Educational Director of that centre. The Shul/Centre currently attracts over a thousand people a month.
Rabbi and Rebbetzin Mark Zelunka
Rabbi Mark Zelunka was born and raised in Toronto. In university he was inspired to go to Israel and learn more about Judaism in Jerusalem. Rabbi Zelunka studied for just over 6 years and eventually received his Rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Noach Weinberg. While studying in Israel, he met Rachel and the rest is history!
Rachel also grew up in Toronto. She completed her studies in Political Science at York University where her drive for politics came from the desire to “making the world a better place.” In 2000, Rachel went on the Aish Jerusalem Fellowships trip and started learning about Judaism in a meaningful way for the first time in her life. It was at that point, she realized that the best avenue for making the world a better place was not in politics, but in inspiring leaders.
The Zelunkas have changed the lives of thousands of students by deepening their connection with Judaism and the Jewish people. Rabbi Zelunka has also produced and trained outreach professionals around the globe, sharing with them his unique approach to developing passionate Jewish leaders. The Zelunkas campus program over the last decade has become the premiere Jewish outreach campus program in North America that other organizations strive to copy.
The Zelunkas have three children, twins - Tehila and Chaim Dov (6) and Naftali (3). They have grown up in a home dedicated to the Jewish people.
Rabbi Zelunka is also the Director of Education for Aish Toronto. In addition to his campus work, he is responsible for managing and empowering the Aish Toronto educational staff.
Rabbi and Rebbetzin Daniel Wolnerman
Rabbi Daniel Wolnerman is originally from Des Moines, Iowa. After graduating with honors from the University of Southern Californa, where he was a national debate champion, Daniel decided to spend a summer connecting with his Jewish roots at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem. That trip which was supposed to be six weeks long turned into six years at Aish Jerusalem! In 2005 Daniel did a rabbinic internship in Toronto during which he discovered his passion for outreach and met his wife Brenda, a veteran of Aish Toronto and Jerusalem Fellowships. After spending six years at Aish, Jerusalem Daniel moved to Gainesville, Florida where he served as the Hillel Rabbi reaching out to the 8,500 Jewish students at the University of Florida, the campus with the highest Jewish student population in North America. After three successful years at the University of Florida and one year at the University of Miami, Daniel has joined the team at Aish Toronto where he works as a campus Rabbi focusing on directing the Jewish Business Network and advising the Jewish Health Network.
Brenda grew up in Toronto at Bathurst and Wilson and has been involve with Aish HaTorah for 10 years. They currently live in Thornhill Woods with their children Moshe (5), Nechama (4), and Noach (8 months).
Hasbara Fellowships Canada
Robert Walker has taken his past experience in the private sector to good use for Hasbara Fellowships. Robert studied Journalism at the University of Ottawa, and has worked for nearly 10 years in communications consulting and digital marketing, but his passion was always Israel advocacy. In the summer of 2014, during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, he launched a grassroots public rally for Israel which attracted more than 3,000 people, and was the first public show of support for Israel during the conflict. In March 2015, he organized a 9-hour long Israel advocacy training workshop, which attracted more than 400 attendees. In addition to working with students, Robert leads Hasbara Fellowships' Canadian development, including fundraising, marketing, and brand-building.
Ariella is the Canadian Campus Adviser for Hasbara Fellowships. She is a York University Alumni and was extremely involved in the Jewish and pro-Israel community on campus and spent majority of her involvement as an Israel activist. She was actively involved with Hasbara at York, where she served as president for 2 years and brought effective change to the campus dynamic. Ariella became a Hasbara Fellow in 2012 and believes that the guidance and advice she received from her Campus Adviser at the time fundamentally influenced the work she did on campus. As the Canadian Campus Adviser, Ariella works with Israel advocates on university campuses around the country. She hopes to give the support and guidance which helped her when she was a student and strives to inspire the next round of leaders for the Jewish People!
Behind the Scenes