Aaron (Ari) Raskin
B’nai Avraham | Brooklyn, New York | 49 years old
Orthodox | Rabbinical College of America
First, I should tell you that I walk every Shabbos from the East Village of Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights just to learn from Rabbi Ari Raskin.
His Torah insights, his ability to break open Hasidic texts are revelatory to all who come to hear him. It is his humanity, his care and gentle support offered to all that are daily on display; he believes and lives his faith.
Stories that illustrate Rabbi Raskin’s extraordinary abilities are infinite — he helps parolees as they chart their new lives, finds funds for those in the throes of court fights, celebrates with a non-Jewish couple just returning from their wedding party, reaches out to the Reform and Conservative rabbis in the neighborhood, inviting them to dinners and celebrations… In short, he is an example of what it is to truly live a Torah-observant life with respect and care for all.
— Holly Wolf
Chabad on Campus at Washington University in St. Louis | St. Louis, Missouri | 37 years old
Orthodox | United Central Lubavitcher Yeshiva
Walk into our campus Chabad for Friday night dinner, and it is likely that Rabbi Hershey will greet you by name — you and every other of the 150 students who attend weekly. He and his wife, Chana, go out of their way to know and be known by each and every Jewish student.
WashU has roughly 2,000 Jewish students, and at least half are influenced by Chabad over the school year. Under Rabbi Hershey’s leadership, Chabad runs programs every single night of the week, where students of all denominations participate and feel comfortable. Besides Shabbat and holiday programming (over 400 people at Passover Seder last year), Chabad has daily morning and Shabbat morning minyan, as well as cooking, educational, special needs and religious programs. Rabbi Hershey even visits sick students and brings them chicken soup.
There is no Jewish service offered on campus that Rabbi Hershey didn’t directly build or lobby strongly for. Whether that’s fighting for our kosher program, signing off on mechanical keys instead of keycards, building the sukkah on campus, putting mezuzas on dorms or lobbying the local Jewish community to extend the eruv to include campus, Rabbi Hershey’s influence touches every aspect of Jewish life at WashU.
— Alex Griffel