The Center's Areas of Activity
Training and seminars for rabbis and community leaders
The Center holds an array of various extensive seminars for rabbis in the diaspora, both in Israel and abroad.
These are designed to give every community rabbi, even in a small, remote community, the opportunity to become aware of new Halakhas, or scientific and technological developments that affect the Jewish way of life; engage in matters associated with the relationship between Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel, and gain deeper knowledge in certain areas.
For the facilitation of this network of knowledge, the Center collaborates with Israel's Chief Rabbis, the Eretz Hemda Institute, the Tzomet Institute, rabbis in communities small and large across the globe and their general leadership.
The Center holds a unique regional seminar for rabbis in regions that have unique characteristics and are faced with various challenges that are unique to their regions.
1. A Seminar for Poland's Rabbis and Leaders
A seminar for rabbis in office in East European cities, where Judaism is re-surging. Training is required, and matters discussed, as rabbis grapple with unique, practical challenges.
2. A Seminar for Scandinavia's Rabbis and Leaders.
A seminar for rabbis in office in the four Scandinavian states, facing challenges of assimilation, intermarriages and Jewish identity that are typical of local Jewish communities.
3. A Seminar for Germany's Rabbis and Leaders.
Two seminars on Jewish studies for rabbis in Jewish communities in Germany, helping them grapple with their unique challenge - the immigrant populations in Germany.
4. A Seminar for Spain and Portugal's Rabbis took place in Barcelona.
Zionist Beit Midrash
1. The Rabbis' Beit Midrash – Paris
The Rabbis' Beit Midrash in Paris has been run by the Center in collaboration with the Consistoire for the past six years, under the auspices and guidance of the Chief Rabbi of Paris, Rabbi David Mashash. All the rabbis in Paris attend half a day of Torah study and Halakhic discussions of current affairs each week. Once a month the Center sends a rabbi from Israel to head one of those meetings. This Beit Midrash is unique in its atmosphere of Torah and Zionism, as well as in the topics discussed by it, which always revolve around the centrality of Israel.
2. South Africa's Beit Midrash for Rabbis
This Beit Midrash is run by the Center in collaboration with the Eretz Hemda Institute and the Board of Rabbis of South Africa. It is under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi of South African Jewry, Rabbi Ze'ev Goldstein, and holds extensive activity with a Torah and Zionist orientation every week.
Each month the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora holds a visual lesson using the "smart room" in Kiryat Moriah, during which a rabbi from Israel gives a Torah lesson to the rabbis in Johannesburg, and a Halakhic debate is held on a pre-defined topic.
South Africa is recently undergoing disassociation from Zionism and Israel. Most Jewish institutions teaching Torah in South Africa do not view Israel as the center of Jewish life. It is thus noteworthy that this Beit Midrash is the only establishment in South Africa that has both a Torah and Zionist orientation, and places Israel at the core of local Jewish life.
Sunday Beit Midrash
In view of the success of various activities, another framework with a Torah, Zionist and cultural orientation is being run for the first time this year – Sunday Beit Midrash. On Sundays, many Orthodox Jews in the Diaspora are able to attend services in a Minyah, since they do not go to work, and have the time to hear a lecture or lesson and partake in various activities.
This year the new activity is experimental and limited. We have had lectures on Eretz Israel as perceived by philosophers, and on Torah and Zion, as well as various other study topics. We intend to expand to more cities, and have more people attending.
The Orthodox General Assembly
The Orthodox General Assembly was set up by the Center of Religious Affairs in the Diaspora in collaboration with the most important orthodox leaders around the world, such as: Yeshiva University in NY, the Orthodox Union in North America, the OU's Israel Center, Young Israel, the North American Rabbis' Union, the Conference of European Rabbis, the Consistoire in France, the United Synagogue in the UK, and the Board of Rabbis of South Africa.
The assembly lasts 4 days and is based on the shared vision that Jewish Orthodox identity and the commitment to Israel must be strengthened. These conventions become a display of global Jewish solidarity, and a show of sympathy with Israel by Diaspora rabbis.
More than 260 rabbis and community representatives from 36 countries, representing 210 communities, attended the last general assembly. This year we had the opening ceremony in Jerusalem, and held the discussions in the north of Israel under the title Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze Laze – Israel are mutually responsible for one another, in a display of identification with local residents. The rabbis visited the border and nearby towns, and the Halakhic topics discussed were Pidyon Shvuyim – redemption of captives – and the image of Israel. Participants in the conference were honored with the presence of Israel's Chief Rabbis, ministers and MKs, as well as the heads of JAFI and the WZO, academics and scientists.
Conferences and Seminars in Israel
The Center collaborates with Torah and academic institutions, as well as with various other organizations, to hold conventions and seminars in Israel.
1. The Center initiated hosting several rabbis from small communities in Israel for a short visit, during which they studied in establishments with a Torah and Zionist orientation to broaden their knowledge on current affairs through the Torah prism, be apprised of the items at the top of the Orthodox population's agenda and strengthen their ties with Israel.
2. The Center, in collaboration with Yad Avi Hayishuv, recruits and trains rabbis who have completed their military service and have the relevant background to be rabbis in the Diaspora.
3. The Center, in collaboration with the Amiel Institute, holds vocational training and seminars for rabbis in Israel.
4. The Center teamed up with Yad Ben Zvi in an international conference on the heritage of the Jews of Rome.