The Father-and-Son Rabbis Who Inspire One Another — and Grandma Too

Aaron and Eliyahu Fink Share Devotion to Faith and Family

Like Father, Like Son: Eliyahu Fink speaks at his bar mitzvah in 1994 as his father, Aaron Fink, looks on.
Peter Carr
Like Father, Like Son: Eliyahu Fink speaks at his bar mitzvah in 1994 as his father, Aaron Fink, looks on.

By Anna Goldenberg

Published March 20, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Aaron Fink likes to tell an anecdote about his oldest son: When Eliyahu Fink was in grade school, he discovered an error in ‘The Little Midrash Says,’ a children’s book about weekly Torah portions.

The precocious child sent a handwritten letter to the author, asking him why he apparently confused the dates on which God created certain animals.

Click for more Inspiring Rabbis

When Eliyahu Fink — who like his father, is an Orthodox rabbi — tells the story, he adds one vital detail: the role his parents played when he told them about discovering the mistake.

“They didn’t say, ‘No, the author is right,’” he recalls. “They said, ‘It sounds like you’re right.’”

Encouraging critical thinking may well run in the Finks’ bloodline, along with a commitment to Jewish faith and learning. The younger Fink continues a five-generation tradition of rabbis.

“They both love people. They both accept people for what they are,” said Louise Fink, 73, of Baltimore, who is the mother of Aaron Fink and grandmother of Eliyahu Fink. “And they are both devout Jews and they are both charismatic people.”

Read All of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis 2014

Both father and son were nominated for the Forward’s list of Most Inspiring Rabbis this year.

Eliyahu, 32, and the rabbi of the Pacific Jewish Center in Venice Beach, Calif., was chosen because of the open and honest way he approaches issues pertaining to the Jewish community, dismantling “the image of a stern, judgmental Orthodox rabbi with no interest in open dialogue or transcending religious and cultural barriers,” as Tova Ross wrote in her nomination. Another nomination described him as “Gadol HaInternet”: Eliyahu has more than 4,500 followers on Facebook and Twitter, and maintains his blog, finkorswim.com, a play on “sink or swim.”

His father, dean of Ateres Bais Yaakov in Monsey, N.Y., received a separate acknowledgement in the form of an appreciation by Forward writer Frimet Goldberger, who praised his generosity and refusal to be bogged down by sectarian divisions.

Although Aaron Fink lives on the opposite side of the country, he is a constant presence and inspiration in Eliyahu Fink’s life.

“There is nobody I talk about more when I talk about Orthodox Judaism,” the son says, adding that he often uses him as a role model.

He especially admires his father’s ability not to judge and be open to Orthodox Jews who experience rejection elsewhere. One nomination describes the 54-year-old as a “one-man welcoming committee” of a community that “enacts walls to push both outsiders and insiders away.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.