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!
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • 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.