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About Us2019-01-11T17:09:25+00:00
Aish Chaim is a collaboration between Etz Chaim and Aish Philadelphia. Both organizations were founded in the later part of the 20th century, to engage Jews with the pursuit of Jewish living and learning in meaningful ways.
Etz Chaim was founded in 1988 by Rabbi Dovid Wachs, who partnered with Rabbi Moshe Ungar to spread the light of Torah across the region. Through it’s journey, Etz Chaim was based in North East Philadelphia, Center City and Elkins Park, but always reached Jews across the Greater City with an array of classes, programs, events, study partners and special trips.
Aish Philadelphia was founded in 1994 by Dr. Herb Caskey, and reached out to Jews especially – although not exclusively – on the Main Line. During that time, several Aish Rabbis and Rebbetzens touched thousands of Jews with an incredible selection of enlightening programs that brought so many Jews closer to Torah and love of Hashem.
In 2018, attempts began to bring these two special organizations together under one roof, to utilize their strengths and to build on the foundations that had been built over several decades. In December 2018, it was announced that Etz Chaim and Aish Philadelphia will officially collaborate with one project, and they will be known collectively as Aish Chaim.

MEET THE TEAM

Rabbi Binyomin Davis – Executive Director
Rabbi Davis was the Executive Director of Etz Chaim since 2017 and continues that role with Aish Chaim. He and his family have lived in the Philadelphia area since 2015, and before that he was the Director of the Kansas City Kollel, where he originally began as a fellow in 2007 after he moved to America from Israel with his family. He grew up in Brighton, England, where both his love of music and Jewish community work began at a young age. He graduated from Manchester University, and subsequently learned in Israel for six years, where he met his wife, Gevura

 

Gevura Davis – Director of Engagement
Gevura has been on the Etz Chaim staff since 2015, where she emboldened a strong women’s program that has included many trips to Israel and follow-up engagement. She has also taught at several college campuses during this time. For Aish Chaim, she is the Director of Engagement where she leads the organization’s outreach ideas and drive, while continuing to spearhead a vibrant women’s program, leading trips to Israel and other locations on spiritually fulfilling missions.
In Kansas City, Gevura led a vibrant women’s division and was the Head of a Hebrew School. Together, Binyomin and Gevura have 5 children.

Rabbi Eli Kopel, Rabbi
Rabbi Kopel served as the Executive Director of Aish Philadelphia from 2014 – 18, and worked for Aish Philadelphia since 2007, leading the organization’s outreach and engagement activities. With Aish Chaim, Rabbi Kopel will continue as a Rabbi within the organization, where he will teach and give spiritual guidance to community members.

Esti Kopel, Rebbetzen
Rebbetzen Kopel served as the Director of Women’s programs for Aish Philadelphia since 2014, and will continue in her role as a spiritual mentor, teacher and Rebbetzen for the community within Aish Chaim.

Rabbi Dovid Wachs, Founding Director
Rabbi Dovid Wachs grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where he was an avid Steelers and Pirates fan. He attended Yeshivas Ner Israel in Baltimore and Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in New York and received his rabbinic ordination from Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim in New York. He founded Etz Chaim in 1988 to introduce fellow Jews to the depth and relevance of classical Judaism. He spent a year in postgraduate training at the Philadelphia Child and Family Therapy Training Center and three years in postgraduate training at the Council for Relationships. He enjoys intertwining his background in psychotherapy with the wisdom of Judaism in order to help singles and couples achieve greater happiness and harmony. Rabbi Wachs lives with his wife, Ettie, and their family, in Northeast Philadelphia.

Rabbi Wachs served as the Executive Director of Etz Chaim for 27 years, stepping down from the position in early 2017. He know serves the role of Founding Director, continuing to work with Aish Chaim contacts past and present.

Mrs. Ettie Wachs 
Rebbetzen
Mrs. Ettie Wachs is the guidance counselor at Torah Academy Girls High School and is a psychotherapist with SRI Psychological Services, P.C. She also maintains an active private counseling practice in pre-marital and marital conflict, individual and family therapy, and parenting and adolescent issues. Mrs. Wachs attended Stern College and received her MSW from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. She did a year of post-graduate work at the Child Guidance Clinic and is completing another post-graduate program in Contextual Therapy.

Rabbi Moshe Ungar    
Rabbi
Having earned his rabbinic ordination from Yeshivas Ner Israel in Baltimore, Rabbi Moshe Ungar went on to train as a CPA and is currently a Director in the accounting firm of EisnerAmper. He co-founded Etz Chaim in 1988 and served as the Associate Director for 30 years.
Despite his full-time responsibilities to his firm, Rabbi Ungar dedicates himself to a tireless teaching schedule at Aish Chaim, enrapturing his audiences with his highly popular class on the weekly Torah Portion. His unique ability to inspire and engage his audience has made his weekly class one of the longest running Torah classes in the Philadelphia area. Rabbi Ungar lives with his wife Dubbie and their family in Northeast Philadelphia.
Contact: manddungar@gmail.com

Mrs. Dubbie Ungar
Faculty, Etz Chaim Women’s Division
Mrs. Ungar attended Beth Jacob of Philadelphia and Sara Schenirer Teachers’ Seminary in Brooklyn. Currently she teaches the Gan Simcha class for Federation Early Learning Services as well as for the Religious School at Beth Sholom in Elkins Park.

Rabbi Binyomin Goldstein
Rabbi Goldstein leads a meditation group on Mondays, and speaks at Aish Chaim on various occasions during Shabbat.

Naftali Perlberger, Associate Teacher
Reb Naftali teachers for Aish Chaim in the monthly Shabbat rotation class, as well as his popular weekly Wednesday night Parsha class.

Stacey Goldman
Stacey lives in Lower Merion with her family, and teaches the Shabbat morning class on a regular basis.
Our Programs