Nephew of Aish founder will kick off 2011 speakers series

Rabbi Simcha Weinberg

By David Baugher, Special to the Jewish Light

The annual Rabbi Noach Weinberg Lecture will have special meaning this year at Aish HaTorah as the event will welcome the noted rabbi’s nephew to St. Louis.

Rabbi Simcha Weinberg will talk to attendees at the Sunday, Jan. 16 event on the topic “Life Strategies: Using Jewish Ideas to Direct One’s Growth.” The lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Aish HaTorah Firehouse, 457 N. Woods Mill Road.

Weinberg, founder of the IDT Yeshiva of Torah and Technology, has lectured all over the world in locales from New Zealand to India and has run programs for at-risk Jewish teens in New York, London, Jerusalem and Moscow that have helped more than 5,000. At present, he runs The Foundation Stone, an outlet for classes and programs that provide practical applications for Jewish theology.

Moreover, Simcha Weinberg is no stranger to St. Louis. In addition to pulpit postings in Los Angeles and New York, the young rabbi served as spiritual leader of Tpheris Israel Chevra Kadisha (TICK) from 1985-89. He remembers fondly interacting with such locals as Rabbis Rabbi Ephraim Zimand, Rabbi Jeffrey Bienenfeld, and Rabbi Sholom Rivkin.

“I never had a congregation that afforded me greater respect, warmth, support and friendships that have lasted all these years,” he said of TICK. “They really were four of the greatest years of my life.”

Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald of Aish HaTorah said that Weinberg was the fitting choice for the talk based both on his reputation as an excellent speaker with fascinating ideas and his relation to his late uncle.

“He stressed the importance that every Jewish person counts,” said Greenwald of the elder Rabbi Weinberg, a founder of the Aish movement. “It’s not all or nothing. One of the things that keeps people from going forward with their Judaism is this feeling that it’s all or nothing.

“For everyone who studies Torah, it should be relevant to their everyday living from their relationships to the way they do business to every aspect of their lives,” he added.

That philosophy has helped guide Rabbi Simcha Weinberg as well. The Baltimore native said he very much believes in the idea of his faith as a roadmap for life.

“That’s the way I look at Judaism, as both a source of practical and meaningful direction,” he said.

He said Judaism has always provided help to him when he needed to make decisions. He called it a touchstone for difficult ethical quandaries.

“I find there is a stress on choice and taking responsibility for one’s own existence,” he said.

“Second, it helps you choose a direction in your life and have a definition of meaning and what you want to accomplish. Third it tells you how to deal with adversity and manage life’s challenges. Fourth, it provides a vision for your children and your family, sending a clear message of what the values are that are most important to you and for them.”

The second point is an important one. It lies at the very heart of a frequent question he hears as a rabbi.

“The most common frustration that’s expressed to me is people telling me that they feel their life has no meaning,” he said. “I will never give a generic response because I believe that Judaism not only nurtures but honors the development of each individual as an individual.”

The bottom line is that the religion can be applied to one’s own life effectively. There are no one-sized-fits-all solutions.

“To me the whole definition of Judaism is for each individual to maximize his or her potential,” he said.

Weinberg said that he is honored to be giving a speech bearing the name of a man who so heavily influenced his understanding of Jewish texts.

“My uncle Noach was one of the most spectacular human beings I’ve ever met in my life,” he said. “His big thing was using tools for life. For me, it’s strategies because there’s a verse in Proverbs that says that you need to have strategies to battle life. He turned me on to the whole idea of using Judaism and Judaism’s teachings as practical tools for life. That’s why the topic is perfect to honor him.”

The suggested donation for the event is $10. For more information or to RSVP by Jan. 13, call 314-862-2474 or email [email protected].

For more information on Rabbi Simcha Weinberg visit