Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s contributions to Israel and world Jewry over the course of the past five decades have been instrumental in shaping today’s Modern Orthodox society.
Noted teacher, author and visionary, Rabbi Riskin originally hails from Brooklyn NY. Rabbi Riskin graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Yeshiva University in 1960, where he majored in Greek, Latin and English literatures. He went on to receive semicha (rabbinical ordination) from the eminent Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, z”l, a Master’s Degree in Jewish History and a Ph.D from New York University’s department of Near Eastern Languages and Literature.
As the founding rabbi of the Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan, Rabbi Riskin created a focal point for an exciting approach to Orthodoxy, attracting many young intellectuals and professionals. He served as a role model for religious social action through his involvement in civil rights and the plight of Soviet Jewry, and he developed into a major spokesperson for Modern Orthodoxy by pioneering the first women’s Advanced Talmud Study program and the first synagogue service conducted for women by women in the early 70’s.
Yet, in 1983, Rabbi Riskin left his thriving career in Manhattan to pioneer the settlement of Efrat, south of Jerusalem; the city now numbers close to 12,000 people and is considered the most thriving, vibrant and desirable bedroom community of Jerusalem.
Upon arrival in Israel, Rabbi Riskin founded a boys’ High School in Efrat, the first in what would eventually become Ohr Torah Stone (OTS): a network of groundbreaking educational institutions, women’s empowerment programs, innovative leadership training, bridge-building outreach initiatives, and proactive social action projects that today encompasses 3,000 students from Israel and the Diaspora, ranging from elementary school to post-graduate programs for men and women. Despite the scope of ages, programs and geographical locales, OTS institutions are all united in espousing the vision and philosophy of their founder: a deep love for Israel, tolerance of one’s fellow man, knowledge and pride in Judaism, and high level secular studies. The Ohr Torah Stone network is training a knowledgeable, caring and relevant leadership for the future.
Rabbi Riskin is the author of eleven books and monographs chronicling and analyzing topical issues. His syndicated weekly columns appear in newspapers throughout the world, and his parshat hashavua (portion of the week) article is emailed weekly to over 3,000 subscribers.
Rabbi Riskin and his wife, Vicky live in Efrat, surrounded by their children and grandchildren.