Faces of Aish
In our work we get to meet and connect with some of the most extraordinary people on earth.
Allow us to introduce you...
Elazar (you can call him Elik), is starting his masters in counselling psychology in September.
When asked about his involvement with Aish, Elik answers candidly: “I came to Aish together with some friends mainly because of the free money, and the free food. It was a good place to hang out and the rabbis were hilarious so why not?” But now after 4 years with Aish, the psychology student has definitely changed his tune: “I feel like it’s time to give back; I think that we all know how easy it is to take things and accept gifts, but when it comes to giving back there needs to be more accountability.” Elik feels that Aish is his opportunity to give back to his community.
Elik has a distinct purpose for getting involved with Aish: “What I miss the most about Israel is the togetherness that you feel with everyone around you as if we are one big family. That is something that is missing in our community in Canada. I hope that by giving back and volunteering with Aish, we can build a better and stronger community; one where everyone is there for each other, supporting one another in every possible way, or just there to share some laughs with some amazing people.” Elik is looking forward to continuously be working with Aish, so that he can meet some new people and reconnect with existing participants: “My hope is that more people sign up for the very generous programs and became part of this ever-growing community of great and hilarious people.”
Heads up! It’s time to feature our third face of Aish! You can chat with her and learn more about her journey at our “Heads Up” Aish kickoff event!
Pearl Kraft is going into her final year at Ryerson University. The first trip she participated in through Aish Hatorah Toronto was Birthright, a little over a year ago. Since then, she has also been on The Living Legacy trip to Poland, and Hasbara Fellowships. Pearl comments on her experiences: “Each trip was a totally different experience with a different focus, and I gained so much from all of them. Every trip left me feeling more connected to the Jewish community (both in Toronto and globally), and to Israel. I feel so lucky to have been able to participate in so many incredible trips and opportunities through Aish and I look forward to staying involved in the future!”
We hope to see Pearl being involved in many other Aish programs and opportunities!
Meet Rishon (but you can call him Rish). Rish is a consultant at a large fin-tech firm, where he fulfills his passion of empowering and educating businesses and future business owners. When asked about what drove him to get involved with the Jewish Business Network, he says: “I came for the opportunity, but stayed for the wisdom”. He recalls October 2017 as an interesting time, where lots of changes were happening on a both professional and personal level: “I really wanted to take time for self-reflection, and ways to redefine my values”. He initially saw the JBN as a way to meet like-minded people, who were able to successfully balance work and family life and shared his values. He hoped that the program would provide him with valuable tools for successful entrepreneurs.
The professional insights he received were very valuable, but he didn’t expect to be impacted on an even deeper level: “I realized that everything I do has a powerful impact- since completing the JBN program, I make an effort to bring value to every professional contact I get; to every interaction I have”. Rishon claims that it’s the giving nature of the Aish community that inspired him to give back in any way he can: “Since getting involved with AISH, I am inspired to use my professional guidance and share my own experiences with tomorrow’s generation of entrepreneurs”.
Lauren is currently a part-time History student at York University. She also runs a non-profit that collects donations and feeds the homeless on the streets of Toronto. She speaks passionately about her cause: “I absolutely love what I do, and am grateful for every day I wake up and am able to get to work.”
Lauren recalls her involvement with Aish and the spark it lit in her life: “I became involved with Aish a few years ago after my accident. When I suffered my brain injury it was the hardest time in my life. The only thing I clung to, my only source of hope and calm was Hashem. I knew He was with me and was helping me through the terrible time. Once I was healthy enough, I knew I needed to explore my relationship with Hashem more - dive deeper into Judaism. And that's when I learned about the Jerusalem Fellowships trip. I signed up, went to Israel with the trip, and my life was forever changed.”
To Lauren, it was the organization that helped draw her closer to her Jewish identity: “Aish gave me insight into Judaism, excited me about my Jewish community, gave me classes and amazing Rabbis and Rebbitzens, and most importantly gave me the confidence to stand proud as a Jew no matter what the circumstance.”
Lauren is grateful for the Aish community for helping her navigate through the toughest time in her life, and sees Aish as her now constant source of support and inspiration: “Thanks to my experience on the trip, I'm on my way to keeping shabbos! Aish lives up to its name... it really did light a fire within me.”
Samuel is currently working at Virgin Mobile and is planning on going to college for nursing in the coming month at Seneca king.
Samuel recalls what inspired him to do Aish Leaders: “What got me to get involved with Aish was that I wanted to explore my relationship to Judaism; I wanted to go out and explore different communities of Judaism that were out there.” After experiencing the program, Samuel feels as inspired and impressed as ever by the organization and leadership style of the program: “at the end of it all, Aish has inspired me to give 110 percent with anything and everything I do. Seeing how hard everyone works in order to make Aish possible for people is truly inspiring. They work hard day in and day out, so why not use that as a way to say that you should do the same?” Samuel hopes to continuously apply the leadership skills Aish has given him into his future endeavours. We wish Samuel nothing but the best!
Sharon is currently an account executive at a tech startup, where she interacts with business owners on a daily basis and helps them reach their business goals. She first got introduced to Aish at a time when she was feeling disconnected from the Jewish community: “I was first truly introduced to my Jewish roots and my religiosity during my time at Hebrew school. Then High School and University came along, and I just felt the chasm between me and my Jewish identity widen as responsibilities and the hectic nature of life kept piling on. Aish was my opportunity to reconnect”. And reconnect she did. At Aish, Sharon was given the space to rediscover her own Jewish identity while still being a part of something bigger than she was: “The experience you get being immersed in a community that understands and upholds your core values- that is invaluable”. She became invested in the Aish community long after the Aish leaders program ended, from fundraisers to trips to Shabbos dinners: “you get this feeling of warmth and belonging being around people who you know are always looking out for you and are actually helping you become a better version of yourself. It is so empowering”.
Sharon hopes to take the wisdom she has gleaned from Aish into her future aspirations.She is currently planning a trip to Jerusalem this Winter, where she will attend a seminary bridging program: “Aish has really helped me spread my spiritual wings. It has inspired me to unearth the wisdom and mysticism that Jewish learning holds. Taking Torah classes has not only aided in my critical thinking skills, but has reawakened my mind in a completely new way”. Sharon is excited to take the values and knowledge she has learned from Aish, and bring it into a career that will truly allow her to help and empower the people around her.
Sandrine initially saw Aish as a way to get incentivized to learn about judaism; she always loved Torah learning, but had up to that point hadn’t delved into her Jewish identity for a while. Since getting involved with Aish however, she was exposed to incredible opportunities. She did the JInternship in Israel through Aish, where she worked with refugees in the south of Tel Aviv for four months. Her Madricha was religious and convinced her to extend her trip and attend a seminary, and she did: “I was so inspired- I met two of the most amazing teachers. It was unbelievable. So then I just ran with it”.
After spending two weeks learning at the seminary, she then found out about another program that offered her an internship opportunity as well as a seminary experience; it was there that she found her perfect medium. She describes it as a “very religious and amazing experience”. Her 4-month trip turned into a 9 month spiritual journey! Sandring claims that Aish “started it all- it sparked a renewed interest in my Jewish learning. The community is so great. We all just hang out together and it makes me want to go to the classes and just keep on learning and growing”. Aish has positively influenced Sandrine in so many ways, making her open to seminary and giving her the platform to explore her own Jewish identity.
Robyn is about to start her fourth year at Ryerson for Social Work. She is also about to start her first placement at DANI and cannot wait for such an incredible opportunity and learning experience.
Robyn has always been very involved in the Jewish community: “When I was younger; it was either Hebrew school or Jewish sleepaway camp. When I got to high school, I was involved with Torah High and NCSY. I always felt really connected to the people involved and what I was learning. In University I decided to continue my Jewish involvement by being part of Aish. I decided to join the fellowship program for a year and then couldn’t resist the opportunity to go on Jerusalem Fellowship, with an amazing rabbi and awesome people! It was an incredible experience.”
The impact of being a part of the Aish community was deeply felt by Robyn: “Aish has introduced me to people that allow me to explore more of my Jewish identity and beliefs, and has provided me with a sense of belonging. Being Jewish has always infl the choices I do and the actions I take. I have been so fortunate to meet the people I’ve met and learned all the amazing life lessons and guides that I have from Aish and the amazing Rabbis and leaders involved. I am excited for the year to come and see what new experiences I will get to have because of Aish.”