"Everyone finds their way to Tel Aviv," enthused Rabbi David Ziering last week, as Aish HaTorah Tel Aviv celebrated its first anniversary, ironically enough, in Jerusalem.
Although Aish HaTorah has long been known as one of the world’s leading kiruv organizations – bringing non-observant Jews closer to their religion – until last year, the only presence Aish had in Israel was in Jerusalem’s Old City. With branches around the globe for years now, Tel Aviv was a glaring omission on the organization’s map, until last Succot.
Ziering, the founder of Aish Tel Aviv, explained that though Jerusalem may be Israel’s political capital, Tel Avivians see their city as the country’s spiritual, economical and social center, an attitude attested to by the Hebrew name for the region around Tel Aviv: the Merkaz (center).
As Ziering explained, "Tel Aviv is the city with the largest populace of irreligious Jews in the world… People talk about fighting against assimilation, but we have a significant element living here who feel alienated from mainstream Judaism."
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