OTS Amiel BaKehila’s Conference on the Jewish Diaspora

An important opportunity to learn, connect and celebrate the New Year

Late last month, just before Rosh Hashanah, over fifty delegation members from across Israel gathered at the Yehuda Hotel in Jerusalem for an afternoon conference focused on Jewish communities in the Diaspora, their different needs and challenges, and some of the ways that Amiel BaKehila has been making a difference in our partner communities.

Before the official program, we convened a special panel for Community Educators led by Rabbi Benjy Myers of the Strauss-Amiel institute. Rabbi Myers encouraged the participants to share some of the challenges inherent in maintaining a connection with a community over a number of short visits, as well as some of the successes that different educators shared with their peers.

Rabbi Benjy Myers leading a discussion with Communal Educators

The formal program began with introductions from Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, President and Rosh Hayeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone and Rabbi Elaihu Birnbaum, Director of the Amiel Institute. They were followed by a lecture from Professor Sergio Della Pergola, a recognized expert in the area of Jewish demographics. Professor Della Pergola shared a number of important statistics about the changing nature of Jewish demographics over the past few decades, giving us much food for thought as we work with smaller communities around the world.

Professor Della Pergola sharing statistics about the Jewish world

Following a short break, we enjoyed a short musical presentation by Ianir Kilinsky and Reuven Bransburg, two talented musicians who have traveled around the world on a number of different delegations. Then we were joined by Mr. Dvir Kahane, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, who gave a short talk about the Ministry’s work and then engaged in a discussion with delegation participants.

Rav Eliahu Birnbaum and Dvir Kahane
Reuven Bransburg and Ianir Kilinsky

The final major address was from Mr. Avraham Infeld, the President Emeritus of Hillel – the Foundation for Jewish Campus life and a life-long activist for Jewish communal engagement around the world. His excitement for Jews and promoting Judaism infected the crowd, as he delivered a passionate address outlining his “five-legged table” formula to engage Jews wherever they may be.

We concluded the program with a traditional “haramah kosit” – as we drank a “le’chayim” to celebrate the incredible success of the past year, and pray for continued growth and success over the coming year. We look forward to 5780 as we bring passionate speakers, advocates, educators and artists from Israel to small Jewish communities around the world.

OTS Amiel BaKehila in the Liverpool Jewish Telegraph

Our first delegation to the United Kingdom was recently featured in the Liverpool Jewish Telegraph. Enjoy!

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Summing up the Pre-Pesach 5779 Delegation to Scandinavia

Guest Post from Rabbi Johnny Solomon

Tonight I delivered my final session in Malmo (Sweden) alongside Avigayle Adler as part of the OTS Amiel BaKehila delegation to Scandinavia.

Having travelled from Copenhagen this afternoon, we were met in Malmo station by Rabbi Moshe David HaCohen and as we walked towards the community centre, we heard about the opportunities, and challenges, facing this special community.
When we arrived at the community centre, we met members of the community who were there to collect some basic Pesach foods which are now being sold through the community centre, and this was followed by a fabulous art activity for children led by Avigayle.

Soon after we popped out to visit the stunning synagogue and heard about its history, and we then returned to the community centre for a further art activity for adults which was then followed by my presentation titled, ‘Serving God Together: The Making of the Unified Haggadah’ where I told the story of Rav Goren’s Nusach Achid Haggadah and made a number of remarks about cohesion and unity in Jewish communities and in wider society. We ended the evening with a panel discussion addressing how we can achieve unity while celebrating diversity.

It has been an incredible privilege to spend the past week visiting and learning from the Helsinki, Oslo, Copenhagen and Malmo communities, while also sharing Torah ideas and connecting with so many wonderful people. In truth, it is impossible to put into words my admiration for the many wonderful leaders and community volunteers who we have met, and I thank each and every one of them for their kindness, hospitality, and for teaching me so much about their special communities.