New OTS Shlichim Poised to Make World Impact
A new class of 18 rabbinical and educational emissary couples graduated in Jerusalem this week ahead of their departure to Jewish communities across the globe. With locations spanning continents and countries, the latest placements from the Beren-Amiel and Straus-Amiel Emissary Training Institutes from the Ohr Torah Stone (OTS) educational network will join 292 emissaries already serving in 93 cities in 36 countries around the world.
The graduation ceremony included a visit to the Heichal Shlomo Jewish Heritage Center followed by commencement addresses from OTS President and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander; Institute Director Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum and Deputy Director Rabbi Benjy Myers; Rabbanit Renana Birnbaum, Director of the Institute’s women’s program; Director of the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora at the World Zionist Organization Ariel Chesner; as well as Renana Niederland and Rabbi Itamar Appelbaum, representing the graduates.
The emissary institutes train husband and wife teams with a specific goal of providing rabbinic, educational, social and cultural support in international locales with a strong existing Jewish infrastructure as well as in places with tiny Jewish communities, off the beaten path.
“The graduation ceremony is not the end of the road, rather the beginning of a new path for the emissaries who are heading out on behalf of the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum, founding director of the Beren-Amiel and Straus-Amiel institutes. “We are privileged to have trained and prepared hundreds of couples of rabbis and educators through the Institutes, with the latest graduates ready to embark on their new roles all around the world. I have no doubt that each one individually and all of them together will have a tremendous impact and bring about a positive change to strengthen world Jewry.”
“We are here today in recognition of the vital service and contribution of our emissaries to the Jewish people, particularly in remote Jewish communities around the world,” said Ohr Torah Stone President and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander. “Their dedication embodies the best of our Jewish traditions in spreading light, unity, strength and the beauty of Torah and the Land of Israel. We wish them a safe, meaningful and impactful journey.”
In operation since 1998, the OTS emissary institutes have placed graduates in communities, congregations and campuses all across North and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The program’s graduates currently hold all of the rabbinical positions in Poland, with the exception of the Chief Rabbi, as well as in the majority of the communities in Switzerland and Scandinavia.
Graduates of the emissary training programs placed in the field receive ongoing support and training via email, newsletters, phone calls, visits, regional seminars and international conferences.
Graduate representatives Rabbi Itamar Applebaum – poised to lead Cornell University’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus with his wife Michal – and Renana Niederland, who will be an educational emissary with her husband, Rabbi Chananel, at Ben Porat Yosef in New Jersey – thanked Rabbi Brander and the staff of Beren and Straus-Amiel on behalf of all the students.
“May we be able to successfully use the tools we acquired from you over the course of our training and use them to ignite the spark within each and every Jew and to strengthen Jewish communities across the world,” Niederland said.