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Love, Inspire, Transform: AishLIT Emerges as a Haven for Jewish Young Professionals

Founded by the visionary couple Rabbi Jack and Shira Melul upon their arrival in L.A. in 2017, AishLIT, the young professionals division of Aish Los Angeles, has evolved into the “home away from home” that many people in the post-college community crave.
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January 25, 2024

Since the Oct. 7 atrocities, AishLIT, a 501(c) nonprofit, has seen a remarkable influx of Jewish young professionals. Aptly named for its mission to “Love, Inspire, Transform,” AishLIT has become the vibrant hub for Jewish individuals aged 21 to 33, providing a weekly blend of experiential, educational, and social events.

Founded by the visionary couple Rabbi Jack and Shira Melul upon their arrival in L.A. in 2017, AishLIT, the young professionals division of Aish Los Angeles, has evolved into the “home away from home” that many people in the post-college community crave.

Through Jewish engagement and a focus on personal growth, AishLIT stands as a testament to the couple’s dedication to enhancing Jewish life and fostering a sense of community. “Now more than ever [since Oct. 7], people have realized that the Jewish people are all we got,” AishLIT Co-Founding Director Rabbi Jack told the Journal. “We grew up in a generation that taught us to say, ‘Never Again,’ and now is the time to step up. We need to be there for each other more … we need to connect more. Unity and kindness are the ways to respond.”

Rabbi Jack, originally from England, and Shira, born and raised in Israel, met in Manchester, England in 2009. Six months later, after getting married in Jerusalem, they began their journey to enrich Jewish life beyond Israel. Joining the community-building leadership program Ner LeElef (now part of Olami), they learned the fundamentals of Jewish leadership and how to cultivate resilient communities in the diaspora. 

Following the program, Ner LeElef offered the Meluls the opportunity to relocate from Israel to Eugene, Oregon — a community that lacked Jewish vibrancy — to apply the skills they had learned. 

Raising their first three children (out of six) on the University of Oregon campus and interacting with 2,000 Jewish students, the couple gained a deep understanding of American Jewry within the young college generation. “We were really open to getting to know people, what their drives are, what makes them tick, what their interests are, how to get people involved,” Shira said. “It was a place where we could independently grow … and become who we are today,” Rabbi Jack added.  

Their aim went beyond just delivering the Jewish experiences students yearned for. It extended to getting to know people personally and helping them uncover the Jewish identities they never knew existed. 

After almost five years at the University of Oregon, Rabbi Jack and Shira’s mission was far from over. Olami insisted there was more to be done to ignite people’s inner Judaism and broaden the scope of Jewish life. 

That’s when the Melul family moved to L.A. to establish AishLIT. “[Our] model of a Jewish ‘home away from home’ on campus [didn’t] really exist for young professionals,” Shira said. “There is nothing … that’s consistent on an almost every other day basis, of something that’s going on in the community that you can rely on and meet new people.” 

AishLIT offers that consistency and reliability for young professionals in L.A. through its weekly events, like Taco Tequila Torah Tuesdays, Pizza Oven and Parsha Thursdays, and Shabbat dinners. Young professionals can also benefit from holiday parties, networking opportunities, one-on-one mentorship, relationship coaching, rent-subsidized housing, and the Donor Circle Club. These events keep the community bonded and help individuals in all aspects of life, whether professionally, socially, romantically, or spiritually.

“A year-and-a-half ago, I moved across the country to L.A., knowing no one,” AishLIT Board Member Marla Friedson said. “Now, because of AishLIT, I have friends and a community that truly feels like family. Rabbi Jack and Shira have curated the perfect mix of meaningful Jewish learning, great people, and fun social activities that keep me coming back for more.”

Rabbi Jack emphasized that the distinct touch he and Shira brought to L.A. is that “we’re a couple, we’re home, we’re a family. We’re not a shul. It’s not intimidating for somebody new.” 

Shira added, “We respect every person for who they are, for being in the formation of God … not what they believe in or what they do or their religious level.”

“There’s a huge change in the way [AishLIT members] present themselves, in the way they invest in the community, their happiness, openness, social life … their internal growth.” – Shira Melul

When AishLIT members attend events regularly, the Melul couple notice a sincere transformation. “There’s a huge change in the way they present themselves … the way they invest in the community, their happiness, openness, social life … their internal growth,” Shira said. “We’re very grateful to be able to do something where we have so much fulfillment and passion— There is no greater feeling than that.”

Rabbi Jack added, “The more often you come, the more people [get to] know you— It’s a family here, and that gives you the structure for a future family.”

To learn more, visit  https://aishlit.com.

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