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Igniting Spiritual Journeys and Strengthening Jewish Identity: Aish’s Mission to Uplift Jewish People Worldwide

Through timeless Jewish wisdom, Aish empowers people globally to embrace their heritage, live more thoughtful lives amidst trying times

Kaitlyn together with other Aish students visit and volunteer at an army base after October 7th
Kaitlyn together with other Aish students visit and volunteer at an army base after October 7th

In the heart of Jerusalem, one organization, Aish, (formerly known as Aish HaTorah), has been on a mission for the past 50 years to impart timeless Jewish wisdom and uplift Jewish people around the globe to live more thoughtful, spiritual, and impactful lives. Through its teachings and programs, Aish has inspired countless individuals to embark on a profound journey of self-discovery and embracing their Jewish identity.

One such individual is Kaitlyn Valese, whose mother was Jewish but she grew up Catholic in New Jersey, unaware of her own Jewish roots. It wasn’t until college that a series of events, including attending Friday night dinners hosted by a Jewish student group and participating in a Birthright trip to Israel, sparked her curiosity about her Jewish heritage. However, it was her encounter with Aish during a study trip to Israel that truly ignited her spiritual journey.

Yoshi speaking to a Jewish community in the United States as part of his self-funded tour to educate about clean speech

“While at Aish, Rabbi Mikhail Dubov gave a lecture on Good vs. Evil and what it means to be a good person and one’s relationship with God. This was the first time that I thought about what a relationship with God means,” Kaitlyn recounted. “Growing up, we were told to have a relationship with Jesus and not God, so this was different for me because I never really thought about having a relationship with God.”

Kaitlyn came back to study at Aish in the Aish Aspire program. During her time there she delved deeper into her Jewish identity. “I decided that I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what I was doing about my being Jewish,” Kaitlyn recalled. “Aish did a terrific job in helping me on my journey. The mentors at Aish emphasize the idea of connecting with one’s self and helping each person focus on who they can be and finding what works for them. They help so much and allow each person to have their own space with guided mentorship. I feel that my journey of self-discovery is solid and constant. They gave me the space I needed to explore and develop and helped me build a strong foundation to continue my personal growth into the future. Combining my studies with volunteering opportunities to give back following October 7th, really made me feel like I was helping the war effort. I am truly thankful for everything I received at Aish.”

Miles Guralnick’s journey to Aish was equally unconventional. Raised in a non-affiliated Jewish family in Milwaukee, Miles initially pursued a career in medical research, studying the effects of psychedelic drugs on mice. However, a pivotal internship program in Israel that incorporated both work in his field, as well as various study opportunities, introduced him to Yeshiva (Torah study academy) classes, igniting his curiosity about Jewish wisdom.

“I wasn’t so keen on doing classes in a yeshiva,” Miles admitted. “I felt connected to being around other Jews, and I was interested in doing medical research, but studying Judaism per se was never my thing. However, I wanted to take the internship program, and yeshiva classes were part of it, as it was such a great opportunity from a medical perspective.”

It was at Aish that Miles found the perfect environment to explore his newfound interest in Judaism on his own terms. “Aish has a unique way of looking at major principles that connect to all of its students, both the people who just walk in off the street, as well as rabbinical students who have been studying for a decade or more. That alone is inspiring,” he said.

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For Yoshi Rosenbluth, a modern-Orthodox Jew who grew up with questions about his faith, Aish provided the answers he had been seeking. “I realized that I had some catching up to do. I was acting Jewish, but I wasn’t understanding a lot of it, so I made a conscious choice to explore it on a deeper level,” Yoshi explained.

Immersing himself in Aish’s Foundations program, Yoshi found solace in the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits and other master educators. “These lectures opened my eyes to how much I still didn’t know but made me feel that it was okay to ask and to struggle with questions, even if I didn’t have all the answers,” he said.

Aish’s impact on Yoshi’s life extended beyond the classroom. During the recent Gaza conflicts, Yoshi served in the Israeli Defense Forces, an experience that strengthened his resolve to spread light amid darkness. “The real war was one that we were fighting amongst ourselves. So much hatred between Jews had been expressed before the war. We were fighting each other left and right, and I thought that the real war was against our divisiveness, I wanted to fight that war and bring people together,” he asserted.

Yoshi speaking to a Jewish community in the United States as part of his clean speech tour

Inspired by Aish’s teachings on unity and clean speech, Yoshi embarked on a self-funded speaking tour across the United States, inspiring hundreds of youngsters to build bridges and avoid hateful speech. “If we stand united as a people, then we will win this war, and being united starts by talking kindly about one another and staying away from hateful speech,” he explained.

These powerful stories of Kaitlyn, Miles, and Yoshi are just a glimpse into the profound impact Aish has had on individuals seeking spiritual fulfillment and a deeper connection to their Jewish heritage. For 50 years, Aish has been at the forefront of imparting timeless Jewish wisdom, uplifting and inspiring people to live more thoughtful, spiritual, and impactful lives.

In the wake of October 7th, we are living in unsettling and difficult times. Now more than ever, we need your help to continue this vital mission. Together, we can turn the tide of hatred and continue to inspire more of our fellow Jews. By joining hands and hearts, we aim to raise $4,000,000 to fuel the Aish mission, strengthening Jewish identity and Jewish pride online and in person around the world. Please donate and join us in this inspiring journey.

United, we stand strong.

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