This week was one of the most important and serious episodes of Good Shabbos Nebraska - America's favorite Shabbos morning talk show!
Our guest was Rabbi Israel Lashak from the NCSY youth organization of the Orthodox Union.
Rabbi Lashak has been in the informal Jewish education business for almost three decades. He is based in Dallas but he lives in a plane. He has racked up almost 7 million miles on American Airlines traveling to Jewish communities all over the world, inspiring kids and consulting communities on how they can grow their youth programs.
Rabbi Lashak is originally from Mexico city. He speaks 7 languages fluently and has traveled to all but 26 of the world's 230 countries for Jewish programming.
Rabbi Lashak is a true professional. Speaking to him for 10 minutes, anyone could tell that he knows the business of educating Jewish youth.
On the show he told us about the two Torahs. The Torah of Moshe is the Torah that most of us are familiar with - Jewish texts like the Torah, Talmud, midrash, etc. Many kids connect with the Torah of Moshe, but many do not. The kids who do not immediately connect with Jewish texts tend to get left behind Jewishly.
That is where Rabbi Lashak comes in. He introduces the kids to the Torah of Abraham. Abraham did not come to the Torah by reading a book. Abraham discovered God through nature, experience, and acts of kindness. That is the Torah that Rabbi Lashak specializes in.
Rabbi Lashak organizes trips all over the world so that Jewish kids can see the beauty of Hashem's creations and engage in acts of kindness. He does service learning projects in south America, historical journey's through Europe, and of course trips to Israel. Rabbi Lashak has lead almost 70 birthright trips to Israel.
Rabbi Lashak is a serious scholar in the Torah of Moshe. he spent over 15 years learning Torah in Yeshiva and to this day he continues to learn seriously every day. It is because of his foundation in the Torah of Moshe that he is able to make the Torah of Abraham come alive. The kids experience the wonders of the world and connect with Hashem on a deep level - and then Rabbi Lashak introduces them to serious Jewish content that enhances the experience and inspires the kids to follow up after the trip and engage in their unique Jewish heritage.
We got to experience Rabbi Lashak first hand over Shabbat. Friday Night we had a dinner for NCSY families and Rabbi Lashak showed us how to make a Friday night dinner into an inspiring experience with singing and words of Torah.
Over Shabbos we had serious conversations about the sate of Jewish youth in Omaha. We discussed it openly on Good Shabbos Nebraska and Rabbi Lashak gave us some candid and honest feedback on what he had observed. Some of what he had to say was painful to hear, but he also gave us some constructive advice.
He made some really great connections with myself and other Jewish professionals over Shabbos and we plan to follow up with him and see if we can use his advice to turn around our community.
Many thanks to NCSY for making this Shabbos possible and of course to Yaakov Rosenblatt of Dallas who sponsored Rabbi Lashak.