Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, Founder and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone, is one of the few people about whom it can be said that his entire life has been dedicated to serving the Jewish people. His visionary contributions to Israel and world Jewry over the course of the past half-century have impacted upon the lives of thousands while redefining Modern Orthodox leadership, shaping the face contemporary Jewish education, and in many cases, literally changing the direction of Jewish history.
Rabbi Riskin made Aliya in 1983 to become the founding rabbi of Efrat, a city which did not yet even exist – but is now home to over 12,000 residents. Efrat was also where Rabbi Riskin established the first school in what would eventually become Ohr Torah Stone, the comprehensive network of 30 unique educational institutions, women’s empowerment programs, leadership development, outreach initiatives, and social action projects.
It is because of Rabbi Riskin’s uncompromising belief in the relevance and beauty of Judaism’s past – and its importance for the Jewish future – that today hundreds of dynamic OTS rabbis and educators are committed to serving Jewish communities, campuses and congregations all over the world. Young adults with special needs can now spend a year in Israel delving into their history and roots; thousands of secular Israelis are willingly participating in Jewish programming, exploring and reclaiming their Jewish heritage; and each year, 3,500 additional OTS students are being charged with a pride in their faith, a dedication to the Jewish people and a responsibility to the world at large.
Furthermore, because of Rabbi Riskin, doors that had been shut to Jewish women have been pried open, empowering Jewish women to partake in the highest levels of Jewish learning, spiritual leadership, halakhic discourse, meaningful service in the Israeli Defense Forces and rabbinical court advocacy on behalf of agunot.
The beauty of a revolution is that what is inconceivable one day becomes commonplace. In essence, Rabbi Riskin has fomented revolution in Jewish learning, leadership and living.