Director – Gavriel Hershoff MSW
For over a decade, Aish Tamid has been helping at-risk teens and young adults establish healthy and productive lifestyles, with a focus on being drug-free, emotionally stable and self-sustaining members of society and our communities. What initially started as a small and informal program founded by Rabbi Avi Leibovic, Esquire, has developed into a fulltime outreach program that assists those in need on a daily basis. Rabbi Gavriel Hershoff, Director of Aish Tamid, MSW and Substance abuse counselor is in touch with 300+ kids and sees approximately 100 boys per month coming through the Center.
Aish Tamid provides an array of services, including crisis intervention, substance abuse counseling, evaluations and therapy referrals, jobs, high school and yeshiva placement, GED preparation, and optional Torah learning to name a few. Parental counseling and support is also a key component, and they partner with parents to strengthen the family ties and work through any sensitive issues the family is experiencing. According to Rabbi Hershoff, the crisis hotline for Aish Tamid is always on and ready to assist. They have also established a relationship with local Jewish rehabilitation and mental health providers in the community, including the Chabad Rehab Center and Beit Teshuva.
On weeknights, Aish Tamid is a Drop-in Center, which provides boys between the ages of 15 – 23 with a comfortable and non-judgmental setting where they can be helped in a covert fashion, without making it feel like a therapeutic program. Not only do they serve FREE dinner every night of the week, there is also a ton of fun activities including billiards, foosball, air hockey, an outdoor basketball hoop, a gym, a musical instrument room, a lounge with a large screen TV and video games, computers with internet access and a Jewish library. This social environment not only keeps kids off the street, but also fosters the personal connection needed in order to work with each of the boys and to help guide them through their unique needs and challenges.
“We want to help kids become productive so they will be able to build up their self esteem. Many of the kids have learning issues or family issues. Many of them have never accomplished anything before, and for the first time, they are feeling that sense of accomplishment. In addition, being a part of Aish Tamid gives them a sense of belonging and a feeling of being accepted for who they are.”
One of the ‘graduates’ of Aish Tamid, Yosef, reflected on how it has shaped his life. “I was getting into trouble at school and hanging out with the wrong circle of friends. One night, a close friend brought me to Aish Tamid. I met with Rabbi Hershoff who, in a short period of time, helped me make plans for my future and get my life back on track.” This included getting his high school diploma on time (despite being projected to graduate 2 years late), a driver’s license, a full time job, and a better lifestyle by quitting smoking and other negative habits. This lead to even bigger achievements which included strengthening his yiddishkeit by going to Yeshiva in Israel, and ultimately joining and serving in the highly respected Golani Infantry Unit of the IDF, which he is currently a part of today. According to Yosef , Rabbi Hershoff opened doors and guided him every step of the way. “This place is so close to my heart…the things that the Rabbi does for these kids, I’ve never seen a man work this hard. I’ve seen these young guys coming in with bad behavior…but within a week or two they start changing their attitudes due to the positive influences of both the Rabbi and the other boys. They start davening more and it really helps them to mature. They take kids who are having serious issues and get them on track and help them become stronger as people…it’s really quite amazing. I’ve never seen a program like this and I really support it with all my heart.”
This worthy organization, which is a critical part of the Los Angeles Jewish community, needs our financial support and volunteer efforts in order to continue their important work of helping our local boys. Aish Tamid plays multiple roles in the lives of these young men. “We often become their mentor, therapist, advocate, and liaison to other programs. To that end, we are always looking for people to donate their time and services in any of these capacities,” says Rabbi Hershoff. “The nightly dinners alone cost $500 dollars a week, in addition to all the other program costs.” Aish Tamid is also looking for members of the community who are able to tutor the kids in a variety of subjects as well as to train/hire them for entry level positions or internships so they can learn a trade. “The biggest Chesed one can do for these kids is to give them a job where they can feel good about themselves and give them the opportunity to be productive.”