|Rabbi Yisrael Noah Weinberg|
February 16, 1930|
Lower East Side, New York City
|Died||February 5, 2009
|Buried||Har HaMenuchot, Israel|
|Children||8 sons, including Hillel Weinberg, and 4 daughters|
Yisrael Noah Weinberg (Hebrew: ישראל נח וינברג), known as Noah Weinberg (February 16, 1930 – February 5, 2009) was an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, rosh yeshiva, and one of the fathers of the Baal teshuva movement with his establishment of a global network of educational and kiruv (outreach) programs for unaffiliated Jewish men and women. Through the multifaceted activities of the Jerusalem-based Aish HaTorah organization, Weinberg influenced tens of thousands of college-aged youth to learn more about their Jewish heritage and embrace lives of Torah and mitzvah observance. He also reached out to business executives, professionals, and Hollywood celebrities with private and group Torah learning opportunities. Many of the programs which he and his staff developed became successful spin-offs in their own right. Some examples include the Discovery Seminar, Jerusalem Fellowships, HonestReporting, SpeedDating, and the highly visited Jewish educational website Aish.com.
His upbeat, charismatic personality and message of attaining happiness through Torah wisdom were well-known to listeners of his widely circulated audio series titled "The 48 Ways to Wisdom". He co-authored the book, What the Angel Taught You: Seven Keys to Life Fulfillment, published by ArtScroll in 2003 and authored the book, The 5 Levels of Pleasure: Enlightened Decision Making for Success in Life, published by SelectBooks in 2008.
Yisrael Noah Weinberg was born on the Lower East Side of New York in 1930. His father, Rabbi Yitzchak Mattisyahu Weinberg was a Slonimer chassid, and a grandson of the first Slonimer Rebbe, Rabbi Avrohom Weinberg.
His mother, Hinda, was a direct descendant of Rabbi Jacob ben Jacob Moses of Lissa, author of Nesivos Hamishpat.
Weinberg was a scion of the Slonimer Hasidic dynasty. He was the great-great-grandson of Rabbi Avraham of Slonim, author of Yesod HaAvodah and founder of the dynasty, and the grandson of Rabbi Noah Weinberg of Slonim and Tiberias, whom the first Slonimer Rebbe had sent to Eretz Yisrael to establish a Torah community in the late 19th century.
Weinberg studied at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, NY and Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, MD where he received his rabbinic ordination. He completed his undergraduate studies at Johns Hopkins University and his post-graduate studies at Loyola Graduate School.
His older brother, Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, who he considered his rebbe, later became rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel.
In 1953, Weinberg traveled to Israel to consult with the Chazon Ish regarding the response needed to counter the threat of assimilation in the Jewish world. However, the meeting was not meant to be as the Chazon Ish died while Weinberg was en route to Israel.
He then became a traveling salesman for his brother's company and in the course of his travels to many small cities in the United States he discovered Jews of all kinds who were distant from their heritage.
Weinberg married Denah Goldman, the daughter of Rabbi Elchanan Goldman of New York, in February 1958. They established their first home in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem and shortly before the Six-Day War in 1967 they moved into a new apartment in the Kiryat Sanz neighborhood of Jerusalem, where they succeeded in raising their 12 children.
Observing the high rate of assimilation and lack of Jewish knowledge among Western youth, Weinberg decided to enter the almost non-existent field of kiruv (Jewish outreach) and he opened the first yeshiva for assimilated Jewish men in Jerusalem in 1966. That school was short-lived, as were several other attempts before he co-founded Yeshivas Shma Yisrael (later renamed Ohr Somayach) with Rabbis Nota Schiller, Mendel Weinbach and Yaakov Rosenberg in 1970. After a few years, however, he broke away from the partnership over a difference in educational philosophy. He believed that the times called for the call up of "kiruv soldiers" who would be given a few years of basic education training and then sent out to give introductory classes to other young Jews at risk of assimilation and intermarriage. To that end, Weinberg established Aish HaTorah with 5 students in a small apartment in Jerusalem's Old City in 1974.
Aish HaTorah became a symbol of the blossoming baal teshuva movement. In addition to its Jerusalem headquarters, Weinberg spearheaded the establishment of an Aish HaTorah branch in St. Louis, Missouri in 1979. This was the first Aish Hatorah outreach center in North America, and it became the prototype for Aish Hatorah outreach programs in almost every major Jewish community today. Over the course of the 35+ years of his tutelage, Weinberg succeeded in building a network of 30 branches on six continents.
In 1985, Weinberg launched the Discovery Seminar, a multi-day seminar designed to introduce proofs of God's existence to audiences all over the world. To date, the Discovery Seminar has been presented to well over 100,000 people worldwide.
That same year, Weinberg launched the Jerusalem Fellowships. This 2 week tour-and-study program brought more than 18,000 college-aged students from 360 universities in North America, England, Australia, South Africa and South America to Israel.
Aish HaTorah's educational programs also include:
- Essentials- an introductory learning program for men ages 18–29
- Executive Learning Center- a short-term, customized learning program for men and women
- Jewel- a 3-week introductory program for young women
- Intermediate and advanced yeshiva program
- Rabbinic ordination/leadership program
- Hesder yeshiva
- EYAHT College of Jewish Studies for Women, led by Rebbetzin Denah Weinberg
The Aish.com website, which receives over 2 million hits per month, includes articles, videos and audio segments on topics related to spirituality, parenting, dating, the weekly Torah portion, Holocaust studies, and the "Ask the Rabbi" question and answer portal. The website also operates the popular 24-hour live webcam of the Western Wall. Sister sites in Hebrew, Spanish, French and Russian are extremely popular as well.
Weinberg also emphasized the importance of Israel activism when he took a lead role in the founding and growth of HonestReporting; the largest organization in the world countering media bias against Israel.
In 2001, as Israel was losing an important public relations battle on college campuses, Weinberg founded the Hasbara Fellowships program to bring university students to Israel for an intensive 2 week Israel Activism training course.
In 2006, Weinberg took a group of Aish HaTorah rabbis to Poland to visit the concentration camps. He believed that the threat of spiritual assimilation was no less a threat than the physical holocaust of decades ago. While standing in front of the crematoria at Auschwitz, he passionately and emphatically declared that just as the Nazis were motivated to destroy the Jewish people, we have to be motivated to build the Jewish people.
For many years, Weinberg promoted the idea of harnessing members of the Jewish community with significant Jewish backgrounds to reach out and share their knowledge with less affiliated Jews. In the past few years this idea has caught on, bringing the issue to forefront of communal discussions and leading to the creation of programs such as Project Inspire.
In recognition of Aish HaTorah's accomplishments and the integral role they play in the Jewish world, the Israeli government awarded Weinberg the last two building sites adjacent to the Western Wall. This magnificent and integral grant encompassed over 40% of the frontage of the Western Wall plaza. In 1996 Weinberg dedicated his newly designed yeshiva as the central location for Aish HaTorah's manpower and leadership training programs.
In his final months, Weinberg devoted his time and resources to the development of the second Aish HaTorah building. This structure serves as the venue for Aish HaTorah's extensive outreach programs as well as the Kirk Douglas Theater. A second phase of development, for the hi-tech "Western Wall Experience" museum, is slated to open in 2018.
In 2005, Weinberg was honored with the "Treasured of Jerusalem" Award by the mayor of Jerusalem.
Weinberg was a chain smoker and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments for the next two years in a valiant effort to conquer the disease. He succumbed to his illness on the morning of February 5, 2009 (11 Shevat 5769). In accordance with a halakhic ruling by Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, Rav of the Old City, his casket was not allowed to be brought into the Old City for eulogies at Aish HaTorah. Instead, the funeral began at a synagogue near his home in Kiryat Sanz and proceeded to interment on Har HaMenuchot.
Weinberg left behind his wife Denah of over 50 years, 12 children and more than 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Weinberg created new curricula to teach the fundamentals of Jewish belief and practice to Jews ignorant of their heritage. These include:
- "The 48 Ways to Wisdom"
- "The 6 Constant Mitzvot"
- "The 5 Levels of Pleasure"
- What the Angel Taught You: Seven Keys to Life Fulfillment (Artscroll, ISBN 978-1-57819-134-5) (co-authored with Rabbi Yaakov Salomon)
- The 5 Levels of Pleasure: Enlightened Decision Making for Success in Life (SelectBooks, ISBN 1-59079-109-6)
- Berkowitz, Avraham. "The Rosh Yeshivah and the Shliach: A Jerusalem encounter". chabad.org. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
- What the Angel Taught You: Seven Keys to Life Fulfillment (Artscroll, ISBN 978-1-57819-134-5)
- Rabbi Yitzchak Matisyahu Weinberg, came from a chassidic background – he was a Slonimer chassid, and a nephew and grandson of the Slonimer Rebbes
- Plaut, Mordecai Plaut (4 August 1999). "A Rebbi for America: HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, zt'l". Deiah veDibur.
- The Rosh Yeshivah and the Shliach by Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz on Chabad.org
- Harris, Ben. "Rabbi Noah Weinberg, founder of Aish HaTorah, dies." JTA, February 6, 2009.
- About Aish Hatorah.
- Discovery: A Project of Aish International.
- Aish HaTorah Programs in Israel.
- Coopersmith, Rabbi Eric. "The Greatness of Rabbi Weinberg, z"l." 8 February 2009, aish.com.
- Tannenbaum, Gershon. "Rabbi Noach Weinberg (1930–2009) Torah Outreach Pioneer". The Jewish Press, 11 February 2009.
- Rabbi Noah Weinberg: Teachings.