Friday, July 29, 2011

A Word from the Director: 7/29/2011

So often, in trying to help people, we come into the situation with an agenda and we attempt to reach out to the person on our terms. With teenagers, it is critical to the relationship building process that we work with these kids on their terms. This is how we are able to reach out to kids from so many different parts of the greater Los Angeles Jewish community. Here at Aish Tamid we feel very blessed to have such a beautiful building with all of its amenities. We’ve provided nearly every activity these boys could want! Yet, there are still those who don’t come to us, and we have to make the effort to meet them on their “turf.” Sometimes a boy will call that he’s “chilling out” at the park - so we meet at the park. During the year a kid might be having an issue at school, so we go down there to advocate on their behalf. We have been called to private homes to help resolve a parent-child conflict. In more dire instances, we have gone to hospitals, drug rehabs, or even jails to connect with a kid looking for guidance and support. We can’t help a kid who isn’t ready to be helped, so when they are ready and do reach out to us, we do whatever we can to engage them on their terms and in their comfort zone. This is how we gain their trust, build a relationship with them, and hopefully help them get to a better place in their lives.

Thursday night we had a beautiful and inspiring evening with a bbq “catered” by our very own chef Ivan, and learning with R’ Yaakov Rosenblatt. We look forward to R’ Yaakov’s words of Torah and chizuk and are very appreciative of the time he spends with us each week.

A boy approached me this week about having a CPR class at Aish Tamid. I told him to get a list of boys interested in such a venture and to get back to me. Within the hour he came back to me with a list of 8 names and cell numbers of kids who would like to attend such a class. It is always heartening to see their passion and involvement in growing the organization, and amazing how quickly they can make things happen when they take the initiative to do so.

One quick nice story: I was having coffee with a boy who hasn’t been doing much with his time this summer. I asked him if he could help me with a building project by working with the professional who was doing it for me. He said he had never done anything like that before, but was willing to try. He worked diligently for an hour and a half and looked happier than I had ever seen him. At the end he said, “Wow, I never thought I could do that!” We have to encourage kids to try new things, as we never know what may inspire them or where it will take them.

Aish Tamid would like to wish deepest condolences to the Dolin and Brodsky family on the recent loss of their mother. May they be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim. May the efforts that Elliot has made and continues to make on behalf of Aish Tamid be an aliya for her neshama.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Word from the Director: 7/22/2011

We had some very important visitors this week at Aish Tamid. Rabbi Ben Shushan from Yeshivat Ruach Hayim in Yerushalayim came to see our program and interview some boys. We are always happy to facilitate such meetings as we not only send the boys to learn in yeshiva, but we then stay connected and check on their progress while they are there. We then offer opportunities for them to maintain and continue their growth when they return. Even at this “late hour,” there are still many boys deciding to go to learn in Eretz Yisrael for a year.

Thursday night we were honored to have the Roshei Yeshiva of the Mesivta of Long Beach, New York visit the Drop-In Center and offer divrei bracha and chizuk to our staff. After taking care to ensure that their attire wasn’t too intimidating, they then came upstairs to meet some of the boys. The Roshei Yeshiva were impressed by what they saw and encouraged us to continue in our Avodas Hakodesh.

Last night we were also very grateful to have our dear friend R’ Yaakov Rosenblatt come learn with a group of boys and be mechazek them. He has a special way of connecting with the boys and speaking to them in a very practical way. We look forward to having his visits become a regular part of our night program.

In last week’s newsletter we mentioned our pride in building a sense of community between the Aish Tamid boys themselves. There were further examples of this recently that I think bear mentioning. In one case, a boy who had experienced and overcome a certain challenge encouraged his friend to enter a program and actually facilitated the boy’s acceptance into that program. The feeling of “areivus” - responsibility to care for a peer - was impressive to witness and heartwarming for all involved. There is no greater nachas than seeing a kid that has succeeded, now in “helping mode” and giving back to younger boy in a similar situation.

In a second incident, a crisis arose involving a teenager who was rushed to the emergency room. A former Aish Tamid boy who was present at the scene felt secure enough to call me in the middle of the night to come down to the hospital and help navigate a very difficult situation. As I spent the night with them I realized that the relationship that had been built over years, and the trust that ensued, was the critical factor in these kids having someone to turn to in a time of need. This is one of our main goals at Aish Tamid - to build solid relationships with teenagers and young adults so that they know that we are the address for help, if and when crisis hits, no matter what time of day or night it happens to be.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Word from the Director: 7/15/2011

Visiting Aish Tamid these days, you will see many new faces. Not only do we have some new boys coming to hang out, but we are excited to introduce our new volunteer, Josh Shapiro. Josh was a track and field coach at Arcadia High School for six years. In that time, he mentored numerous teens on and off the field, building their self- esteem. Now, he continues to use his background as a coach to help teens through fun, outdoor experiences. Our boys have already connected very positively with Josh, and we are looking forward to having him create some programs on life skills building for Aish Tamid.

B”H, we continue to successfully refer both boys and girls to local therapists. There are some excellent mental health professionals in our community and we welcome their involvement with Aish Tamid. Several of them have already contacted us looking to get involved in our work with at-risk youth, and we appreciate their offers of assistance. In the near future, we hope to put together a list of such resources available to the community and encourage these dedicated professionals to be in touch with our office.

As our organization has grown, we have not only built a name for ourselves within the greater Los Angeles Jewish community, but we have been contacted by organizations on the East Coast to collaborate with them in creating specialized educational opportunities for teens. This is exciting as we are always looking for ways to network with organizations similar to our own and share ideas that have worked in the past. We pray that “a problem shared is a problem solved.”

It has been particularly heartwarming to witness several occurrences over the past few weeks that point to the Aish Tamid community the boys have created among themselves. We repeatedly hear from them that Aish Tamid is their “home away from home” as they come at all hours of the day until we finally have to ask them to leave and lock the doors late at night. But we are also discovering that they are sharing positive experiences and programs outside of the Drop-In Center as well. One boy was attending a Tae Kwon-Do class that he enjoyed, so he invited a few friends to join him and now there is a group that goes together. This week, one of our boys had his bike stolen. In a show of solidarity and support, several of his friends got together, successfully found the thief, confronted him, and had the bike returned! This camaraderie and feeling of belonging to something larger than themselves is an important part of their maturity and growth.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Word from the Director: 7/8/2011

We hope that you are all enjoying summer! We certainly have been here at Aish Tamid! We kicked off our week with an awesome 4th of July barbecue – complete with patriotic decorations, hot dogs, hamburgers, steak and watermelon. The boys who attended played basketball on our “court” and then took advantage of the regular Aish Tamid amenities for the rest of the evening.

B”H, this week we have been successful in directing a few of our teens to qualified therapists who will hopefully take them to the next level in their personal growth. Just getting the kids to the point where they are willing to meet with a therapist involves hours of texts, phone calls and meetings – but it is gratifying to see them come to the realization, on their own, that they are the ones who will benefit from such sessions.

We were also able to place some of the boys in jobs; they are quite excited about this. As they seek structure to their days, they are willing to do many types of work – even day jobs like moving. If you are in need of capable workers for either long or short term, please let us know so we can help create opportunities for accomplishment and purpose for these kids.

Back by popular demand… we’re pleased to announce the restarting of our GED program. We ran a very successful program during the year, supporting several boys through the process of studying for and passing the GED exam. This has proven to be a critical part in the process of advancement towards pursuing a higher degree and career. Recently several boys asked that we begin the program again and provide the tutors they need to accomplish this goal. We are thrilled to respond to this need and fulfill their request.

Lastly, we’d like to thank those working on the repair and enhancement of our building. Keep your eyes open as you drive down 3rd Street – we’re expecting a new sign for the front of the Aish Tamid building that will help even more people find us and seek out the help they need!

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Word from the Director: 7/1/2011

This week we would like to highlight Aish Tamid’s new girls division. The overwhelmingly positive response we have gotten over the last few weeks from girls, parents, community Rabbanim and local therapists has been testimony to the crying need of girls in distress for such an organization. Not only do girls email and call me asking for help for themselves, but some have even called seeking advice as to how to help a friend in crisis.

I have learned very quickly that teenage girls have a lot of “drama” in their lives and are often overwhelmed and not sure how to navigate it all. To that end, I have been directing the girls towards female mentors and therapists on our staff who are slowly building relationships with them. Getting the girls to open up and trust an adult figure is very challenging, but B”H we have some very good people on board with both the training and experience necessary to connect with them and help them.

The number of frum young women in the mental health field who have contacted me wanting to be involved in this program has impressed me. Many of them have gone through the same educational system and are from backgrounds similar to our girls, and as such feel they can relate and have much to offer. As our girls division grows, and we convince more young ladies to allow us into their tumultuous lives, we look forward to having more of these talented professionals involved in our organization.

It is sad to hear from parents who are so distraught over their daughters’ self-destructive behaviors. It has been heartening though to see the willingness of certain Rabbanim and Rebbetzins in the community taking such a participatory role for these families. They have lent a supportive ear and a shoulder to cry on, and we are honored to partner with them in our combined efforts to help these families in crisis. Many of the girls (similar to our teenage boys) need a structure to their summer plans. If you know of any jobs for them, please contact me at Aish Tamid.

As always, if you know of a teenage boy or girl in crisis, or parents struggling with their teenage child, please contact me at or call the Aish Tamid office at 323-634-0505 to leave a confidential message.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Word from the Director: 6/24/2011

With the school year just ending, we at Aish Tamid have participated in graduations at Valley Torah, Yeshiva Gedolah, Toras Emes and more. Many of our students have also taken their high school equivalency exams (GED or CHSPE). We are all very excited about the boys’ accomplishments and wish them congratulations on their academic achievements. We often take finishing school for granted and do not view it as much of a big deal. However, for many it is not so simple, especially when lacking the support or guidance to achieve their goal. Often times the first step is the hardest. At Aish Tamid, we instill in our students the importance of an education and encourage them to follow through.

Recently, we have also been speaking and meeting with representatives from yeshivas, trying to secure placement for boys seeking to study in Israel. Of course, along with the admissions process there is also the matter of the weighty price tag. If you are interested in chipping in to help sponsor boys going to yeshiva in Israel, it is a tremendous z’chus for you and your family. Please let us know!

Conversely, many of our boys are also returning from yeshivos in Israel. Many of them have had a very inspirational and productive year. Keeping in contact with the boys is a pillar of our program. We work with them before yeshiva, as well as when they come back home. For many, Israel is a truly unbelievable experience. However, if there is no structure created for them when they get back, it is very easy for them to slip into stagnancy, losing the growth and inspiration they gleaned at yeshiva. Part of our job is to help them stay connected in a Torah environment. We do that by getting them a chavrusa, learning with them, and simply maintaining a relationship. It is also highly beneficial for students to find work over the summer. It provides a way for the boys to keep busy and maintain a structured regimen. If you know of any employment opportunities, please get in touch with us!

This week, Aish Tamid attended a seudas hoda’ah by one of our students who was in a near-fatal car accident one year ago. Baruch Hashem, he not only survived but is walking again! He sponsored a beautiful breakfast for fifty boys. It was a very inspirational event.

Finally, we would like to thank our unofficial trainer at Aish Tamid, Ron Luberman, for making himself available two nights a week. In addition to providing guidance and instruction during workout sessions, Ron has also begun giving very engaging and helpful nutrition lessons.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Word from the Director: 6/17/2011

As summer approaches, many of our students are leaving town for camp or various other reasons. While discussing their trips, it’s very touching to hear them bemoan the few days they have at Aish Tamid before leaving, saying things like “only a few days left at Aish” or “I can’t believe I’m gonna be gone for so long”. It’s heartwarming for us to hear that we play such a major part in their lives that they feel they must stop by one last time before they leave. Thank G-d we have been successful in creating a place that for many is a home away from home; and for some, they spend a more time here than at their real home.

Though the school year has only just concluded, kids are already in need of new high schools or yeshivas for the upcoming year. Much of our activities during late spring and summer consist of meeting with parents and getting in contact with schools, trying to secure placement for the following year. We also work on the sometimes-challenging issue of acquiring financial assistance for kids to attend yeshiva in Israel. If you have a son or know of a young man who is looking to attend school, please get in touch with us.

I want to thank Rav Yaakov Rosenblatt for joining Aish Tamid on Shavuos night and inspiring us all throughout the evening (and morning). Of course, I would also like to thank Rabbi Neuberger for his efforts learning with the boys on Shavuos evening – and of course for all that he does for Aish Tamid. Rabbi Neuberger is often here as much as six nights a week so he can spend time with the boys. We thank him for his dedication.

We’d like to thank Selma Fisch for providing our teens with much-needed snacks.

In other news, our girls program is growing. The girls are starting to meet with our mentors and clinicians. It’s a process for teens to learn to trust and create healthy relationships with adults. Above all, it is important to convey to them that we truly care what they have to say and that what they say is between them and the mentor.

Sadly, this week our good friend Frank Menlo lost his sister, Judy Frankel, who had been ill for many years. At the levaya, Mr. Menlo spoke poignantly about the need for parents to be available for their children. He cited the use of cell phones and the common practice of parents ignoring their children while on the phone. It isn’t enough for us as parents to simply be around. We need to truly be there for them. Our children must know that they are our absolute first priority. We share our deepest condolences to the Menlo family. May you be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

A dear friend and student of mine, Gabe Yelloz, lost his father this week. May you be comforted among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Word from the Director: 6/10/2011

We had an unbelievable crowd on Shavuos, with fifty to sixty boys dropping by Aish Tamid throughout the night. The age range was 14-23 years old and every room in the building was being used for studying Torah. We have students from all over Los Angeles and I was only expecting that the ones from the La Brea area would attend, I was completely taken aback when we had kids from Pico who had walked and skateboarded to be here with us! It was a very inspirational evening for me to see so many guys here from all walks of life. Many of the older boys, whom I haven’t seen in ages and who are in colleges and various programs, came to join us. The most impressive part was that our regulars – who I am always nudging to learn a little – were able to sit through a good part of the night learning dafim of Gemara. Let’s not forget about the food! We had sushi, cheesecake, and lots of other nosh throughout the night. I think Aish Tamid has really become a place for the boys to feel comfortable, almost like their second home. This year, the building is bustling at all hours of the day, whether they come to shmooze and hang out, do work on their computers, attend the GED class in the afternoons, use our gym or the new basketball court, or watch the NBA Finals; and let’s not forget we always have food for them! We’ve created an environment where they can feel comfortable. I had a student say to me a few weeks ago “We have everything here, if we could just sleep here, we’d never have to leave.”

Whenever we have the opportunity I feel it is important to introduce the boys to the people that make it all happen: Avi Leibovic, for being the visionary creator of Aish Tamid. He has spent years of selfless dedication and devotion, reaching out to hundreds of students, whether it be for guidance or for employment opportunities, his special chosson classes, or of course his trademark: INSPIRATION! Avi also recognized the importance of having a building which the kids would be able to call their own.

There are various wonderful organizations that reach out to many areas of our community’s needs. Aish Tamid has a unique niche and that is that we work with our own community’s kids. Very often, because we live such busy lives, we may overlook the needs of our children and families. Often our own kids fall through the cracks and need more attention. Maybe they have a learning issue or just don’t fit in. Whether they need a mentor, a big brother, help in school, or somebody that will reach out to them and tell them they are special. Often there are situations in a family and we are here for them to reach out to us. I spend hundreds of hours on the phone and in meetings with teens and young adults every month. Very often, I just check in with them, leave them a message, remind them that I have not forgotten them and find out if there is something we can do for them. We focus on the relationships. Rarely will I have to engage in theological discussions; these kids know what’s right and what’s wrong. What they need are people to care for them and accept them for who they are. That is what Aish Tamid is all about.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Word from the Director: 6/7/2011


As the NBA season comes to its grand finale with the great Mavs-Heat Finals matchup, Aish Tamid is proud to announce that it has recently installed a basketball hoop at the building. The boys have been playing pickup games every day on this excellent extension to our newly-furnished gym facilities! We'd like to thank Elliott Dolin for his continued support in helping Aish Tamid better meet the (exercise and entertainment!) needs of our kids.


This year we will be hosting a teen Shavuos all night learning program at Aish Tamid. As in the past, we have many interesting and dynamic classes for the teens. We will of course be providing sushi and plenty of sugar and caffeine laden treats to keep us up learning through the night. In addition, the Aish Tamid Minyan, under the auspices of Rabbi Avi Leibovic will host a variety of inspirational classes. In the past, we have had dozens of teens drop by throughout the night. We look forward to another inspirational all night program.


We’re up and running! Aish Tamid’s girls program started with six girls last week at an undisclosed location (to maintain privacy) and we have already received lots of positive feedback. The girls had a fun time hanging out and meeting the female mentors who will be working with them. A major focus of the group is for the mentors to create a relationship with the girls which continues outside the confines of the weekly meetings. The need for these young women to have a relationship with an adult figure whom they feel is not judging them and is available on their terms is crucial. One of the biggest challenges that we find with teens is their inability to trust and be trusted by adults. Our mentors and therapists do not have a history with the girls. We are capable of creating a new relationship based on trust and caring.

All parents have dreams and aspirations for their teens. However, sometimes teens need to have a relationship with another objective adult who may not be as personally involved and demanding as the parent. For example, a certain therapist and rabbi in New York ran a teen support program. His son began exhibiting some of the problematic behaviors the rabbi had dealt with in other people’s teens. This wise man however, did not get involved directly. Instead he chose an outside person to help his son. He understood that he had to give his son some space while placing him under the care of a trustworthy adult. In this way, he allowed his son to develop a relationship with his mentor in which he could be assured that his secrets would not be divulged.

Teens have to be able to trust their mentors/therapists. The building of a therapeutic relationship is in actuality the creation of a “safe place” for young adults to explore themselves and grapple with the many challenges they are facing. The development of that relationship is challenging since teens tend to be mistrustful of adults because they have often experienced “being let down” by those in whom they have confided in the past. For a relationship between an adolescent and a mentor to be successful, it is pivotal that confidentiality and privacy are highly valued. In this way, teens can begin to trust that what is shared with the adult will be safeguarded. In turn, therapists seek to help teenagers create stronger bonds with their families when possible, and will certainly involve parents if there is significant threat/danger to the teenager.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Word from the Director: 5/27/2011

Aside from our ongoing boys program, we have also been very busy with the creation of our new girls program. We have met with many educators and principals and they have embraced the program enthusiastically. We have secured a location – at least for the next few months – and we are very excited to get started. The program will be in the Hancock Park area (not at Aish Tamid’s building, of course). We have received many calls expressing interest from parents and community leaders, and many women who have volunteered to help get involved. The staff will consist of a therapist and other adult therapeutic coaches – all women of course. The goal is to create a place where girls can feel comfortable and safe outside of their homes; a non-judgmental environment where they can have fun with their peers, talk and ask questions – with adults who will care for them and serve as role models.

This is a monumental moment in our city. Until now, nothing like this has been created for the community and I have been ecstatic by the response I’ve received. Many of us until now have had this notion that there are only challenges with teenaged males. This is certainly not the case and the challenges vary. Many girls also slip through the cracks despite good intentions and great parenting. The need for confidentiality applies everywhere, but we understand the significance it has especially in our community. In the diamond business there are stones that are easier to cut and shine and there are others that need extra precision and more work. They are all diamonds just the same, but some might just need a bit more attention. Every child is a diamond. We at Aish Tamid feel that they too can be outstanding citizens and can be tremendous assets to Klal Yisroel. We believe that with the proper support and care our teens can reach their maximum potential, make their parents proud, and shine brilliantly!

Aish Tamid’s success lies in our ability to collaborate with parents, teachers and community leaders. If you have a daughter or know of a female student who is struggling, please get in touch with us. We are always available for parents and teachers, with support, referrals and guidance.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Word from the Director: 5/20/2011

Aish Tamid will be open this Saturday night for a special Drop-In Center event. We will all be meeting at the building at 9:30 PM and visiting Rabbi Wolf for his Lag B’Omer Meron experience soon afterwards. Many of the boys are unfamiliar with this unique celebration. I hope that it will be a fun and inspirational evening for all!

This week I attended a lecture given by Mrs. Rochel Wise from Philadelphia. I invited parents to join as well. Mrs. Wise is a parenting coach who lectures around the country, focusing on discussing parents’ relationships with teenagers. She bases her principles on what she calls ‘Choice Theory’, emphasizing the importance of relationships. The two important factors that I picked up from her were as follows: First, many parents have issues with their teenagers because the transition from child to teenager poses many new challenges. Parents often feel that they lose control during this period of the child’s growth. Up until now, the parents have made all the decisions. From here on, the teenager now begins to make his or her own decisions, and this is often where a number of conflicts begin to arise. Since we cannot make decisions for them forever, our goal as parents is to teach them how to make healthy decisions. My second takeaway from Mrs. Wise’s lecture was that often times, the conflicts between parents and their teenagers stem from the parents taking offense to the child’s decisions and behaviors. A parent may perceive this as a personal attack, but if they stay calm, they will realize that it is not a personal attack at all. Knowing this, it will enable them to maintain a healthier and more positive relationship with their children.

We are in the exciting process of creating a girls’ program to address their unique issues and needs. The girls’ program will differ from Aish Tamid’s Drop-In Center for the boys, and will held at a different location. We have recently hired a frum therapist and we will keep you updated as the program develops. If you have any questions or know any teen girls that need mentoring or help, please call the office at 323-634-0505.

We started a learning program this week with Rabbi Zvi Boyarsky from The Aleph Institute. Rabbi Boyarsky is teaching a course in fundamental Judaism, based on a curriculum that was specifically created for teens. Hopefully it will deepen their appreciation for their homeland, national history, and Jewish identity.

We would like to thank Ron Luberman, an exercise trainer who has volunteered his time to help out at the gym. He has a tremendous amount of experience and the boys look to him for instruction.

Taking Responsibility for Our Actions:

Teens often feel invincible and infallible. As parents, we have to teach our children that they have to be responsible for their behavior, and that there will always be consequences for their actions. In the news this past week, we have learned of leaders and public figures who have acted immorally and seemingly gotten away with it… at least for a while. We must learn that we are accountable in all aspects – in our relationships, taking tests at school, dealing with money, etc. Unfortunately, we do not have to look too far to find examples of people whose lives and careers have been destroyed because of bad decisions and impulsive behavior. I believe the message is an important one for teens, as they grow up thinking they are invincible.

I’d like to share a portion of a letter that we received from a parent on the East Coast:
“We really appreciate your involvement during the latest ordeal. Being so far away, it was a comfort for us knowing you were there, helping and guiding us. Your advice was very much appreciated and valuable.”
It gives me a good feeling to know that Aish Tamid is truly making a difference.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, May 13, 2011

D'var Torah: The Journey

The Journey by Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

This week was a very sad one for Lakers fans. The Lakers were tossed out of the playoffs because of their humiliating performance. If you think about it, it was really sad for one individual in particular. That man was Phil Jackson. Imagine leading a first rate team and losing in such a shameful and upsetting fashion. What does the loss say about him as a person? Do we look at his 20 years as one of the greatest coaches of all time or do we look at the last disappointing season? What should define him, his career, and his life?

We are raised as very goal oriented people. We are always moving towards the next stage in life, whether graduating high school, getting through college, landing a good job, etc. The question can be asked though, what if the final goal isn’t accomplished? Do we view the whole attempt as a failure, or are there other things gained over the journey?

I’d like to suggest that the journey and process is often more important than the end result. When someone starts college, do we believe that the goal is just to get through college at all costs, or is the goal about facing the challenges in day to day life? In Judaism, we believe that it’s the journey. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos says “it is not up to us to complete the work.” We have to put in effort and deal with the day-to-day issues and challenges. What is accomplished at the end is not always in our control. R’ Nechunia ben Hakanah wrote a Tefillah that he recited when he entered and exited the Beis Medrash. The Tefillah says that we thank Hashem because we work hard learning Torah and we earn reward, while the others (who do not study Torah) work hard and do not receive reward. This raises a disturbing question. We know that, for example, if a contractor works hard and builds a beautiful house, he gets paid for what he accomplishes. How can the Tefillah say that those who work do not get rewarded, when we see countless examples of people being rewarded for their accomplishments?

The answer is that when one learns Torah, it is not so much about how much was achieved and what was completed. Rather, Torah study is the only occupation in which you get rewarded for your effort. The message to us is that life is not just about the accomplishments. Life is about applying effort and overcoming the day-to-day struggles that face each and every one of us. Having said this, looking back at the coach’s career, the fact that the conclusion was not as triumphant as would have been expected does not take away from the greatness of his career.

We too have lofty goals and aspirations. The question should be posed however, are we capable of enjoying and appreciating the processes and the day-to-day routines, or are we too focused on the final goal that the daily routines become meaningless to us? For example, in college there are students who receive grades through unethical methods because the only goal in their minds is of graduating. Others however, while wanting to graduate, appreciate the ongoing challenges of working hard to get their grades with integrity and honesty. We need to learn to focus on our daily life and the everyday challenges and to appreciate life as a journey, as opposed to only focusing on the end result. The goal is progress, not perfection.

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

A Word from the Director: 5/13/2011

This week at Aish Tamid we resumed our GED/CSHPE tutoring program with Eli Korobkin. We have a few new students who just started, in addition to those who have been here all year – all of whom are working diligently to further their education. Many of them will be taking their tests in June, b’ezrat Hashem. We wish them much success! If you know of anybody who needs assistance in preparing to take their high school equivalency exams, please have them call us.

We currently have about thirty to forty boys who frequent our center on a daily basis. They come to study, socialize, work out in the gym, speak to me, or just hang out. They also come to eat! We would like to thank Jeff of Jeff’s Gourmet for sponsoring a wonderful dinner this week. The boys loved it! As you can imagine, feeding so many boys throughout the week can be rather costly. Please call us if you would like to sponsor a dinner.

I sometimes feel like a shadchan – but not for marriages! This week I was involved with local teens currently unhappy in New York, looking for new yeshivas to attend. I spent many hours speaking with them and their parents to discuss their needs. I was also in constant contact with parents with teens with special needs looking for support groups and new yeshivas for their sons. We are constantly updating our resources for the variety of needs of our community, providing assistance and counseling for teens and offering support systems for their parents.

One of our latest projects has been constructing a gym for the boys to use, morning, day and night. The gym provides a healthy outlet for them and can help to boost their self-confidence. This week we even had a trainer volunteer some hours to explain to the boys some techniques. Some of the boys recently discussed purchasing a new water cooler for the gym. I would like to thank Yehuda Gamzo for contributing to this goal. It is great to see our youth taking proactive steps to help out. On this topic, I’d also like to thank Yehuda Rosen and Avi Adler who volunteered a day in court this week in support of a friend who had a case which, baruch Hashem, was successful. Though I could not attend, I was able to monitor what was happening because they were there to keep me updated. We try to encourage our students to be supportive and empathetic towards others. We find in this parsha there are many situations that discuss helping other people. Even when people make mistakes, they still deserve the support and help from others to enable them to get back on their feet.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Word from the Director: 5/6/2011

We had a very busy week at Aish Tamid, as I met many new people – both teenagers and young adults. As many of you know, Aish Tamid offers community service hours for those who need it. It gives us the opportunity to meet people and try to see if there are ways that we can assist them, as we try to create or find an opportunity for them to get their hours completed. We try to create opportunities for them that will be meaningful. Because of these mandated community service hours, participants have created long-term relationships with Aish Tamid. Many of them have continued to stay connected with us long after the hours are done.

This week I had the opportunity to meet with two young individuals that left an unbelievable impression upon me. These two individuals – one of them who experienced traumatic events in his life, and the other who got involved in very risky behavior at a very young age – have both grown to become resilient teenagers. They both have a long way to go but they both have this insatiable drive to succeed and pick up the pieces of their lives. The easy way is for them to give up and just let their lives take them in whatever direction it may. But they have such a spirit and a drive to succeed, that they have overcome many challenges in their day to day lives. These kids will one day become mentors and leaders because of the effort they made to overcome their challenges.

Many challenges in our life are overwhelming and often seem unfair and we don’t understand why they happen to us. However, we have to learn to view these challenges as opportunities for growth. We need to teach our children that life’s challenges are meant to help us be the best we can be. This week I was truly inspired by two young men who have been very successful in accomplishing this goal.

Have a good Shabbos,

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, April 29, 2011

Letter #1

This week we received a wonderful letter from one of the boys involved in Aish Tamid’s programming:
Many know of Aish Tamid only as just another neighborhood Shul. For a lot of us teenagers, we found a second home at Aish Tamid and have great opportunities through the teen program. The things I love most about Aish are the relaxed Jewish environment where my friends and I can all hang out and the study program that gives us time to study when not in a classroom – for either the GED or normal school tests – with a tutor able to answer questions and guide us through challenging assignments. Aish Tamid has guided me along the road to graduation, and now I will be attending college full time in the fall at SMC, with high test scores in Literature and Math. Aish Tamid has also helped me and many of my friends find jobs in the community as well.

Any night we feel, we are always more than welcome to "drop in" for any number of reasons, whether it be to hang out and kick back while rooting for the Lakers or Dodgers over food with friends, or even in extreme cases in which anybody facing a crisis situation can reach out to and seek help from Rabbi Hershoff. We can deal with the sometimes-challenging issues of our age and get through them with the best-proven family/community/cultural guidance imaginable. I, for one, was in a very tough place with school, having been in independent studies for all of my senior year and lacking guidance and direction in life – as well as a family dealing with issues far beyond my control.

One day a friend of mine brought me to Aish so the Rabbi could tell me about his study group for students such as myself, students in independent studies and needing to study for the GED. I instantly knew that I had found a place to help me succeed and give me the tools to be able to confidently say that I am on a road to a much brighter future than I’d ever previously imagined for not only myself, but my family as well. All the guys at Aish are like one big family. We always help each other out whenever needed, and are available to one another at any moment’s notice. This circle of Jewish friends who all care about one another and truly want to see each other achieve success in life is an amazing thing to have at hand.

I am eighteen years old and currently a senior in High School. I credit Aish Tamid for helping me to be able to experience working (at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) and being on my way to receiving my high school diploma on time. I have a much stronger sense of self, morals, and much more thanks to Aish and the programs they have provided myself and the community. For this, I am indebted to and thankful for this gift I have been blessed with – a second chance that Aish Tamid has given many of us.

A Word from the Director: 4/29/2011

It’s great to be home and getting back into my normal life routine again after Pesach break. The texting on my phone had been non-stop throughout Chol HaMoed and as soon as Yom Tov ended, with all the boys eagerly waiting to return to Aish Tamid and our programming activities. I do a lot of preaching for people to work, or be in a school program, or go to the gym, or get up for davening on a consistent basis. A strong sense of self-esteem is critical in taking the initial step. I feel the first way to deal with someone’s self-esteem is to make them feel productive, giving them a reason to get up in the morning. Once they are in a productive mode, then we can initiate the process. As they proceed, we can then show them their accomplishments along the way, which continues to boost their self-confidence.

This week we have unfortunately been dealing with someone who is incarcerated, and of course the trauma that the family has been dealing with. We have been dealing with available resources, including Rabbi Landau, Howard Winkler, the Alef Institute and Carrie Newman. We appreciate all of their help and efforts. We should never have to experience that with any of our children, but it does happen. The question is always “do we run to bail them out or are we enabling them by doing so?” We have to teach them a sense of responsibility to some degree. Every situation is different, of course, and we obviously do not want to see any of our kids, Chas Veshalom, spending time behind bars.

Enabling is a very interesting concept, something that we as parents do very well. We do it out of love for our children, but at times we do more harm than good with it. I have copied a definition and a few examples from Internet of the Mind:

In the true sense of the word, to enable is to supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity to be or do something -- to make feasible or possible.
Here are some examples...

• Repeatedly bailing them out - of jail, financial problems, other "tight spots" they get themselves into
• Giving them "one more chance" - ...then another...and another
• Ignoring the problem - because they get defensive when you bring it up or your hope that it will magically go away
• Joining them in the behavior when you know they have a problem with it - Drinking, gambling, etc.
• Joining them in blaming others - for their own feelings, problems, and misfortunes
• Accepting their justifications, excuses and rationalizations - "I'm destroying myself with alcohol because I'm depressed"
• Avoiding problems - keeping the peace, believing a lack of conflict will help
• Doing for them what they should be able to do for themselves
• Softening or removing the natural consequences of the problem behavior
• Trying to "fix" them or their problem
• Repeatedly coming to the "Rescue"
• Trying to control them or their problem

One personal story about enabling: I take pride in the fact that I do not enable by giving out money if I have any suspicions of substance abuse or addiction. Having said that, I will sometimes pay for food or gas, though this can also be enabling. A few weeks ago on Shabbos afternoon during my nap, my kids woke me up to tell me that somebody broke into my car and walked out with a bag. The trunk was not locked and I didn’t think I had anything to steal and, nu, what can I do. After Shabbos, I checked the car and there was nothing missing. The following Tuesday, a certain individual came over to to me to tell me that he had a very nice Shabbos. I asked, “Where were you?”, and he told me that he had been sleeping in my car. He had nowhere else to sleep. Although this was very sad, I was enabling him by leaving my car unlocked. Needless to say, even I enable as well!

We have a special visitor from New York, Rabbi Mitnick, who was one of the founders of “Our Place”, one of the first drop-in centers and at risk programs in New York. He is also a Rebbe at Kamenitz and was a Rebbe at TAB for many years. If you would like to meet with him, please call the office and we can arrange a meeting.

A few of our older working teens have joined together to help pay for an in-ground basketball hoop in the parking lot. The boys are very excited. It will be a half court and we will hopefully have it painted. We will keep you posted.

We want to thank Selma Fisch for sending over boxes of snacks and soda for the boys to enjoy. We have many kids in the building during the day, either for the gym, the GED class, or to just hang out. We appreciate this generosity and it will definitely go to good use.

Lastly, I have had numerous requests from students regarding yeshiva placement for their year abroad in Eretz Yisroel. Additionally, there are many yeshivot in the East Coast for high school students, which I inquired about over Pesach. At some point, I may take a yeshiva road trip to the East Coast in order to be better educated on how to direct you all. If you have a son that needs a yeshiva, please feel free to contact us at the office.

We should all have an easy adjustment back into our normal life routines.

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Word from the Director: Pesach 2011


That is the theme of Pesach. What is freedom? We see rebels in countries around the globe fighting for freedom. Is that true freedom? What happens once they become free? Do their lives really improve? For most people freedom means the ability to do whatever they want whenever they want. Freedom is a lack of restrictions and often a lack of structure. So how can we truly feel free, as “bnei chorin,” if as shomrei Torah and mitzvos we have chosen to adhere to a lifestyle that has many added responsibilities and extra restrictions? The question our children ask us, and we may even ask ourselves at times, is “why?”

As many of you know, I am a substance abuse counselor who believes strongly in the “Twelve Steps” of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Twelve Step program is a spiritual way for an addict to hand his unmanageable life and his will over to
G-d, and to ask G-d for direction and guidance. In return, a relationship is created with frequent self-evaluation and constant contact with that Higher Power.

For the record, it doesn’t only work for drug addicts and alcoholics. We all have some unmanageable element in our lives. For some it may be an addiction to drinking, smoking, or food. For others it’s our jobs where we find ourselves putting in far more hours than we spend with our family. Perhaps there is an anger management issue, or maybe we are perfectionists. For most of us, there are areas in our life which are unmanageable. The premise of the program is that we believe that all of our troubles are our own making. It comes from a certain level of self-centeredness; we feel that we are in charge of everything. We have everything under control. But when one comes to terms with that fact that not all aspects of our lives are “manageable,” we start to realize that maybe there is Someone greater than us who takes care of us and is controlling the world.

We have to stop trying to “play G-d.” We must come to the realization that we need help managing our daily lives and must therefore improve and strengthen our relationship with Hashem. We have to decide that from here on in Hashem is going to be the Director and we are His actors. He is our Father and we are His children. Yes, that sounds like Rosh Hashana, but the principle applies here as well! Once we truly accept this then all sorts of remarkable things follow. Our all-powerful Father in Heaven provides what we need if we stay close to Him and do our best to perform His Mitzvos. Bearing this in mind, we will become less preoccupied with ourselves and micromanaging our lives, and more interested in seeing what we can contribute to the lives of those around us. As we become conscious of G-d’s presence, we begin to enjoy peace of mind, and we discover that we can face life on its terms and be better prepared to accept the challenges that come our way.

We pay lip service to the fact that Hashem runs the world and He makes sure we have what we need. But how many of us work 60-80 hours a week with little time for anything else? How many of us get angry and blame ourselves when our children aren’t living exactly the lifestyle we would have chosen for them? What are we showing by acting that way? Is Hashem in control, or do we still think we are in charge? We actually do believe that Hashem is in charge, and deep down we want Him to be in control, but we vacillate. Often we want Hashem there when we need Him, but otherwise we are ok seeing Him in shul on Shabbos.

“Ain lecha ben chorin ela mi she’oseik ba’Torah- the only one who is free is one who is involved in Torah.” Why? Because just like we didn’t know how we would cross the Yam Suf, or how we would eat for 40 years in the desert, we need His help to raise healthy Shomer Shabbos kids in Los Angeles in the year 2011. We want somebody to take care of us and be in charge, otherwise life often doesn’t make sense. Following the Torah and doing Mitzvos is our part in the relationship.

And that, my friends, is true freedom…

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Word from the Director: 4/8/2011

I would like to start by thanking all of those who came over to me with comments about the past few weekly newsletters. I appreciate the feedback and constructive criticism. Please feel free to comment. My e-mail is

When I went to yeshiva, the worst thing that ever happened to anybody was when a boy was called and told that he had to come home and deal with a parent who had just passed on. To me, the thought of sitting on an airplane by yourself going home to such a loss was such an unbearable thought. The inability to say goodbye and the lack of closure even today is an unbearable thought.

This week a student who we have known for five years had to come home to an almost similar situation. His mom has been hospitalized for the past few months while the son has been serving in the Israeli army. The father told him on Friday that the situation is deteriorating and that he should take the first flight home after Shabbos. He took the first flight and unfortunately, his mom passed away Shabbos afternoon at 6:45 Los Angeles time, while the boy was air bound. He would be returning for the funeral in Eretz Yisroel the next day. I get the chills just thinking about it.

There is no answer to why, but we can be supportive and let him know that he is not alone. The question is always how do we continue during challenging times and how do we teach our children to handle life on life’s terms. I think a possible answer is teaching resilience. We live in a world where we like to cushion our children and provide everything for them in both a physical and emotional way, and Baruch Hashem for the most part we are able to. Often providing more than what we grew up with. We often try to shelter our children from knowing about the struggles and challenges of others. I worked for many years in a high school and spent many hours with parents calling me to change or fix the kids’ grades. Of course, we want the best for them but are we teaching them to survive when the going gets tough.

Resilient children are hopeful and possess high self worth. They feel special and appreciated. They have learned to set realistic goals and expectations. They have developed the ability to solve problems and make decisions, and thus are more likely to view mistakes, hardships and obstacles as challenges to confront – rather than as stressors to avoid. Resilient children are aware of their weaknesses and vulnerabilities but they also recognize their strong point and talents. They have developed effective interpersonal skills with peers and adults and are able to seek out assistance and nurturance in appropriate ways.

I have compiled a partial list of ways to raise a resilient family:
• Communicating effectively and listening actively.
• Loving our children in ways that help them feel special and appreciated.
• Accepting our children for who they are and helping them set realistic expectations and goals.
• Helping our children experience success by identifying and reinforcing their strengths
• Helping children recognize that mistakes are experiences from which to learn.
• Developing responsibility, compassion and a social conscience, by providing children with opportunities to contribute.
• Teaching our children to solve problems and make decisions.
• Discipline in a way that promotes self-discipline and self-worth.
• Attribute positive meanings to a situation
• Maintain family flexibility

I would like to thank Moshe Fogelman for sponsoring our Thursday night barbecue at Aish Tamid.

Aish Tamid provides dinner for our 30-40 students, five nights a week. For sponsorship, please call our office at 323-634-0505. We should all have a restful and meaningful Shabbos with our families.

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Word from the Director: 4/1/2011

Last night was the Shloshim of our dear friend Ori, O.B.M. His younger brother made a Siyum Mishnayis in his memory. It was an evening of inspiration and tremendous Chizuk for all. His mom asked me to share a Facebook message that she received from one of Ori’s friends. It is a very clear message that has been on the forefront as of late, and is being addressed by prestigious individuals, including the President of the United States. The names of individuals are left out in order to protect the innocent:
It’s been about a month now and I still think about Ori everyday. Unfortunately, I don't have the best memories of Ori. I think about the harassment he would go through on a daily basis. He definitely did not have it easy at school. I think of how hard it must have been to be picked on constantly, and to be publicly humiliated on a daily basis at school. I still can’t imagine….just how hard it was for him.

I wish I could go back in time and maybe I could have made a difference when we were in a school together. But being an adult now, I know that can’t happen, so I need to use this situation as a lesson to be learned. A lesson on how bullying can destroy a kids self esteem and cause great harm to a kids life down the line. I have learned a huge lesson from this experience and know I will act differently if I see young kids teasing others. G-d willing, I will teach my kids not to bully other kids and to reach out and defend a kid if he is being bullied. Reaching out to a kid like Ori could have made all the difference and I will regret that I did not do more forever.

It’s kind of interesting the day I heard the tragic news about Ori I immediately knew it was from the bullying. I called my mom the morning of the funeral and I told my mom to tell her class not to bully. I told her to tell her class that this tragedy was a direct result of someone picked on as a kid. It took me until now to realize that was the message.

I am really so sorry for your loss.
I believe that this is a very strong message. Bullying occurs daily in every school, in every system, unfortunately even within our community. The effects of bullying must be brought to the forefront in our schools and given the attention it deserves.

Have a good Shabbos

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Word from the Director: 3/25/2011

We live in such confusing and challenging times. The world around us changes in a flash. Japan, one of the most powerful countries in the world, is in crisis and their people can’t even drink water over concerns regarding radiation. The United States is at war with Libya. And our beloved land has to deal with terror attacks and bus bombings again. I lived in Israel for seventeen years and lived through many attacks, funerals, shiva visits, hatzala zaka, people stopping to visit Israel, survivors, and amputees with families. We all look for answers and there aren’t any good ones. We hope for the best and maybe one day we will understand.

Our kids are just as confused. As much as we try to shelter our kids from everything around, we can’t. We have to create an environment where our kids can participate in discussion, in a safe and comfortable place. We mustn’t overexpose them to everything, but let them know that we want them to come to us to discuss things and not get the information elsewhere. Our kids are bombarded with messages around them day in and day out - either from the media or the billboards and everywhere else. We have to learn to communicate with them. Our kids are not naïve; we may be the ones who are naïve, to think that our kids don’t see everything going on. We live in a large Jewish community, baruch Hashem. We have to remember that going three blocks north and three blocks south, is out of the community. We have a responsibility to give them a reason to stay connected to Yiddishkeit. We have to make it passionate and not just a routine. If we don’t then they will find passion elsewhere. We know that it’s not real out there - but they don’t; what they see is exciting and appears to be real. We have to learn and to teach our kids to communicate with us. How many times do I hear from parents and Rebbeim “I can’t believe my kids are into that and hanging around with them!” I am speaking to myself and letting you eavesdrop; chas veshalom I should give mussar!

For all of you with high school graduates for kids: It is so important that you go to yeshiva - but which yeshiva? Many of the boys will go to Eretz Yisroel for a year or two. I have been getting so many calls from concerned parents regarding where to send their kids. What type of yeshiva, how much freedom does it have, etc. Eretz Yisroel is awesome but there are plenty of challenges and dangers. We have a good relationship with many of the boys’ yeshivas. If we can help or at least be a good sounding board, please feel free to call.

One final point: I have dealt with many kids and their parents this week. It is crucial that parents are on the same page when dealing with issues. If kids see that their parents have conflicting ideas, they will take advantage of that and point fingers at one parent over the other, knowing they have support from one of the two. We parents don’t have to agree on everything, but we do have to have to put on a united front for many issues when we deal with our kids.

May this week be a quieter and calmer week for all of us.

Good Shabbos

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Word from the Director: 3/18/2011

Today, Erev Purim, is the one day that the kids all want to get to school early. They get to dress out of uniform for carnival, treats, and assemblies and just have a great time in school. It is nice to watch and see that they are so excited about the Yom Tov. How many times are we too tired on Shabbos and during the week to spend time with the kids and appreciate their personalities and stories and everything about them? We all have our ideas what Purim should look be like and what we want to happen during the day. This year, Purim falls right after Shabbos so we can all get our well-needed rest so we can dedicate the day to spend with our kids. We don’t know what it means to them. Often we belittle ourselves and don’t realize that our kids want and need to spend time with us. We live in a world where kids are searching to belong and feel accepted. Often they search for that because we don’t create a home environment where they are comfortable and want to be part of. The most important thing for our kids is to have a home where they are number one. For children, they have to want to be home, to be comfortable and to know that we love them and want to spend time with them. If we raise our kids that way then when they get older, they grow up with more self confidence and have a better chance of succeeding - which is what we all want for them.

This week we opened our gym and the boys are learning how to use the various machines. We are teaching them how to be responsible and share space with others. We are teaching them the safety issues involved, and how to take care of the equipment. I try to impress upon them the amount of effort put in by members of the community, either financially or with their time, to make this happen for them.

I feel the need to publicize the unbelievable accomplishment of Avi Menter who finished Masechet Megila with Rabbi Neuberger, shlita. Avi was the driving force and with unbelievable consistency was able to accomplish this beautiful goal. We should continue with such amazing success stories.

I feel the need to emphasize this: please be available to drive your teens wherever they need to go. We don’t know if they may be under the influence even slightly and for the safety of our kids, take away the keys. If you see someone who appears to be driving in a suspicious manner, pull him over and try to deal with the situation. We all want Purim to be a fun and healthy Yom Tov for all.

Many of our boys have volunteered to help raise some funds for us to continue our programs for them by collecting on Purim. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to be involved and show a hakaras hatov and learn how to give back. Please open your hearts and help us to help our community’s teens.

Have a wonderful Shabbos and a freilechen Purim!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Word from the Director: 3/11/2011

This past week was very busy. Last night we had a Rav here from Eretz Yisroel who has a program very similar to ours. It was interesting to see that many of the situations and challenges are very similar with our teens and young adults. Baruch Hashem there are many fine institutions in the community that work with teens that come from secular homes. Our niche is working with teens that come from orthodox homes and that somewhere along the line have become disenchanted with their environment. There are many reasons why that would happen. Often there may be a family situation or crisis which changes the homeostasis of that individual; often what may have been the norm yesterday now comes into doubt. For the most part, I believe that many of our students feel that there is something different about them, that they do not fit the mold, and that they have failed to reach the expectations of their family and even community. One of our goals at Aish Tamid is to work with each individual and to build a program for him based on where he is at this moment. It is our job to create a realistic expectation for the student.

Every person without exception has the ability to be successful. Unfortunately, we are not born with a handbook and for some it takes longer to figure out what our strengths are. This past week I had the opportunity to meet with Rabbi Yonah Landau. The purpose was to discuss the creation of a work project for our group of boys that could be their own. I have many kids here who have talents and I am constantly looking for community projects for three reasons. The first reason is many of the boys are generally bored and this keeps them busy; second, it makes them feel productive by helping others; third, when they are put to the challenge with new projects they find strengths they never realized they had. For many, conventional school does not work, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t learn a vocation or a trade which they can feel good about. We have been successful in creating a safe place where kids are comfortable with mentors - an educational component, with the spiritual component, and of course the fun component - and our gym will hopefully open soon. I just feel that learning a vocation is the next step for many of our kids.

Again, anyone who would like to volunteer with this project should be in touch with me.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Word from the Director: 3/4/2011

This week has been rather challenging. One of our students whom we were close with for many years tragically passed away. Any death is difficult but he was young and had his whole life ahead of him. As you can imagine, the family is going through immense pain and grief. He was a very unhealthy kid. And we tried with in so many different avenues. And the hours we spent supporting the family all we can say was that we tried to be there for the kid and for his parents. At the end of the day, the mantra that rings through my head multiple times a day is that we cannot help somebody who is not ready to be helped. It is painful because naturally, we all want to help and fix problems but it is unfortunately not up to us. I would just like to add that when we see kids that we think are screwing up their lives, instead of us looking at them in a scornful way remember they are crying out to us and asking us to try to understand them and not to be scared of how they look and how they are behaving. I was at a seminar that discussed teenagers and they spoke about the girl that was acting out and all the teachers hating her for acting like a “slut”. Instead of hating her and blaming her find out why she is behaving that way and reach out to her, there is a reason why she is behaving accordingly.

In other news, we want to thank Brigitte Wintner for sponsoring a dinner for thirty-plus guys the other night. The boys were very touched and the food was awesome. If you would like to donate or sponsor a dinner, please let us know.

One of our boys who had taken an EMT course years ago took his test this week and passed. We are very excited about his accomplishment. After much nudging, he and I finally agreed to let him take my car to take the test.

The gym is looking awesome. The movers brought the machines this week and our dear Eliott Dolin stayed until after 8 pm last night to help the workers finish putting them together. We thank Eliott for his dedication.

We should hear only good news and simcha as Rosh Chodesh enters this week. Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Word from the Director: 2/25/2011

The week started with excitement with the NBA All Star Game on Sunday shown at Aish. Rabbi Neuberger opened early and stayed until closing. I told him to close after the game since he had been there for so many hours. His response was that if there are guys here, we will stay open for them. We thanked him for his commitment. Over the past two months, we have opened our doors on Saturday nights from 9:30-11:30, per request from the boys. Presently, we are open two Saturday nights a month.

In other news, the gym room looks different every day. This week they painted and put in carpeting. Next week we will be getting some exercise machines delivered. The boys are excited about its opening as are we. We, Baruch Hashem, have a beautiful building and the more we can provide here in our environment, the less they have to look for elsewhere. Again, we want to thank David Hagar and Elliott Dolin for helping make this project possible. We are still looking for an Elliptical and a Flat screen TV. If you are interested in donating, please be in touch with me.

This Saturday night is the Aish Tamid Minyan's first dinner. The Minyan is a very warm and accepting place to daven at, which provides awesome chizuk from Rabbi Leibovic in a laid-back environment. While we encourage all those to attend the Minyan and their dinner, the Aish Tamid Minyan and the Aish Tamid organization are two separate entities. We wish them much Hatzlacha.

This Shabbos, I will be attending the Yula Shabbaton in Woodland Hills. I was asked to participate on a panel discussing boy-girl relationships. My introduction is going to revolve around self-esteem and how in order for us to have healthy relationships, we must first have a self. And to have a real relationship, we have to have self-respect to feel that we are worthy of being respected for who we are and not for what we can provide. Unfortunately, a large majority of our boys and girls suffer from a lack of self-worth and low self-esteem. Many of our boys don’t always excel or fit in at school. They feel that they have no strengths and when you sit with them, they are completely hopeless. My first question to them is “what do you like to do?” and “what are your strengths?” Usually, they don’t know. If we can find an activity or skill that our children and students can excel in, which can be uniquely theirs, that could make a tremendous difference in their lives and help to develop a healthy self-esteem.

Have a beautiful Shabbos!

Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Word from the Director: 2/18/2011

Hope everybody had a wonderful week. It's been busy here at Aish. We went with a few guys to see Matisyahu in Thousand Oaks which was awesome and inspirational. He even wrote a song for us called Aish Tamid! It felt like a Melava Malka in the Old City. Matisyahu has a way of taking a large group in a large setting and making it personal and getting the crowd into it.

I have a boy who just came back from the Israli army to visit his mom in the hospital. He told me he doesn't recognize her. He hasn't seen her in three months. He was asking me to bring him Tefilin. Please have her in your tefilos: Dana Sorah Sterna Bas Ninet. We should never have to come home to such news.

Some of our students are signing up to take their high school exams. They are excited but also nervous. Part of what we do – besides preparing them to take the exam – is also to teach them that if they don't pass it is not the end of the world. And they can take it again. Many of our youth today are never taught how to deal with failure and disappointments. I had a boy come in last week and say to me “they are going to fire me at my job and my life is over.” He went to his therapist who told him to stop blowing things out of proportion and it’s up in your head. I disagreed with her and said that even if they may fire you, your life will not be over and you will find another job. Teaching people how to deal with setbacks and disappointments is one of the most important things to teach young people. We live in an environment where everything is sugar coated. We are not helping them by not giving them coping mechanisms to deal with the challenges in life.

You should have a restful and meaningful Shabbos.

Rabbi Hershoff

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Word from the Director: 2/11/2011

We had a busy week here at Aish Tamid, with the big Super Bowl party. We had two big screens with the game on and we had two separate pizza deliveries. A big ‘thank you’ to Ben Zion Levin for helping with our technical needs and coming in late Saturday night to take care of the last minute setup. I also never formally thanked the Gohari family for donating their couches to Aish Tamid. It has definitely given Aish Tamid a well-needed facelift and is much appreciated by all.

In other news, a big ‘thank you’ to David Hagar and Elliot Dolin for helping us with our gym renovations. We expanded the area downstairs and it is ready for us to set up the gym. The boys are very excited and keep asking if we are going to charge them to use the gym. Of course not. This week we should be able to start moving equipment in to the room and hopefully we can open for business by the end of the month. Anyone interested in getting involved with the project should please contact us for more info.

There has been about four to five requests this week that we should have a Shabbaton in some type of resort. I personally have never thought about doing it but we are considering it, based on the request. I find it flattering that the boys are so comfortable that they want us to take them away for a weekend. Until recently, we have never been successful in organizing small trips and we found that the boys just want to come to the center and when they want to go on trips they go on their own time.

Just to make people aware, I have slots available during the week to meet with parents about their teens with or without their teens present. We have been getting many calls not only about the boys in the community but about teenage girls as well. We work a great relationship with the many schools in the community as they refer their families to us. Please call the office if you would like to schedule a meeting.

And lastly, I apologize for repeating myself: we have many students who are looking for employment, both for financial reasons and for self advancement. Please consider hiring one of the many Jewish boys in the neighborhood. We have a boy who we set up at Coffee Bean; he spent Super Bowl Sunday working and feels like a million bucks that he has a job and has structure in his life.

Have a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Word from the Director: 2/4/2011

It’s Super Bowl XLV and we are having our annual Super Bowl Party (without beer). The boys are excited and we will hopefully have two big screens showing it in two different venues in the building this year. We will of course have lots of food and nosh and hopefully even have a mincha minyan during some boring commercial.

In other Aish Tamid news, our gym is progressing and this week we plan on doing some minor construction to enlarge a room downstairs. Our goal is to have five or six different exercise options in the room. We are really excited about it and we want to thank Elliott Dolin for all his time and effort and making this project into a reality. Anyone interested in getting involved should please get in touch with me at the office. Also, we are looking for another flat screen TV for the gym. Anyone interested in donating one should please be in touch with me.

Thank you again for those that have offered job opportunities to our students. We have recently placed some boys in temporary and permanent jobs. We look to you, our community, to hire these boys and give them a chance to be successful. A student - let me rephrase - two students came over to me and gave me some money. When I asked, “what is this for?” they said “it's maaser from the job that you helped us out with.” For me, there is no bigger sign of appreciation as when they come and give a little back.

Finally, we have a student who is soliciting money for himself, going door to door and stating that he is a student of Aish Tamid. We do not suggest that you give him money and that he should be in touch with us.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Word from the Director: 1/28/2011

Hope everybody with kids had a nice vacation during “Jewish kids’ vacation week” in Los Angeles. We have had a busy week here at Aish. We had a few visitors come by, one from Kesher Yeshiva in Yerushalayim and from Camp Extreme, and also Rabbi Aftzin from the RAP Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. Many of the people from yeshivot in Eretz Yisroel get in touch with us when they’re in town and come to visit. We are in constant contact with both our students from yeshivot, and those in yeshivot presently. A lot of what we do is connect many students with appropriate yeshivot when they are ready to leave home. Eretz Yisroel is an amazing opportunity for students to go and learn and experience, but for some there is too much freedom.

We want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Jonathon Sack for their donation of a beautiful treadmill. Hopefully, our gym will be opening in the next few weeks. We are still looking for a few more pieces of equipment. If you have something that is being used as a hanging rack, please let us know.

I would also like to thank those that hired some of our boys this week. They appreciate the opportunity to work. If you have or know of entry-level job opportunities, please have us in mind and help our local Jewish boys. It helps with their self-esteem to work, and many of them need the money.

Have a beautiful Shabbos!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Word from the Director: 1/21/2011

We had another busy week with our afternoon study hall group. We have been getting a lot of inquiries from boys who would like to join and accomplish the milestone of graduating high school. Every kid wants to finish high school but unfortunately, many kids do not have the self-discipline and support to follow through with it. For many kids, the importance to earn the diploma is not so much the earning power but the confidence that it gives that “I graduated high school.” Besides the actual teaching that goes on at Aish Tamid, many phone calls go out daily to remind the kids to come and to be consistent. On that note, consistency is so crucial I often tell them whether its davening, learning or whatever they commit to, the consistency is what will help them build self-confidence. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz used to give a mashal of a hot water urn. We put the water on the stove, turn it on, but we never let it boil. It starts to warm up then we turn it off. We start again, but we never get boiled water! It’s easy, as we all know, to start projects; but to follow through and be consistent is the hard part!

The Drop-In Center was busy! We had a lot of old faces come in and reconnect with us, as well as some new kids. Many boys need jobs, so if you know of a job or need somebody to work, let us know. Many stores in the community hire non-Jewish workers. Please give our boys a chance to work. It’s both tzedaka and chesed!

Rabbi Neuberger took some of the boys to see the Skelener Rebbe. They were inspired and all received brachos. Thank you, Rabbi Neuberger and Mr. Barry Weiss for the red carpet treatment.

Lastly, we are trying to open a small gym for the boys to use. If you have any gym equipment or exercise machines that are being used as clothes hangers, please consider putting them to good use for our boys. You should all have a restful and meaningful Shabbos with you and your families!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Word from the Director: 1/14/2011

I would like to thank everyone who participated in our end of the year campaign. Baruch Hashem, we are working with so many kids and our evening Drop-In Center has doubled over the past few months. Our food bill alone has been around $500 a week for the past few months so we appreciate all those who have contributed. It is tough being a teenager and even more so a frum teen, with all the mixed messages they are bombarded with today. On one hand, we live in a heimish community with all the kosher food and Rebbeim and shuls and mikvas; but on the other hand, we have all the western messages from the billboards, the movies and the streets.

Baruch Hashem, we have been able to create a place for kids to come to and be comfortable at - a place to relax with people to talk to and a healthy and safe environment. The boys know that we are always available for them and they have a place to come to. A large part of what we do is we try to make the boys feel successful. I feel that is step one. Once he feels productive, then we can work on some of the other issues in his life. Based on that premise, we created the afternoon study hall program, hiring a teacher to work with the boys to help them graduate high school. I believe that that is crucial for every kid’s self-esteem.

Another place for them to feel success is to get them working! Work forces you to get somewhere everyday at the same time. What many of these boys lack is a sense of structure in their lives. Baruch Hashem, over the years Rabbi Leibovic and Aish Tamid have directed hundreds of boys towards a variety of jobs and we continue to do that. When that boy gets a job, it changes his whole life and attitude. Suddenly, he has purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. We feel that if a boy can get a college education that is obviously our first plan of action. But for many, they are not ready for that type of commitment. For many, an apprenticeship or internship in specific fields where they will learn a trade or skill - even without pay - can change their life.

If you have any entry-level job opportunities or have the ability to train someone, please be in touch with us. I believe there is no greater tzedaka. Hashem should bentch you and help us all through these trying times.

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff