Beit Ohr Torah of Kiev, Ukraine, was officially dedicated in mid-September 2014. A group of OTS representatives, led by Rabbi Riskin, arrived for a short unveiling ceremony on the premises, in conjunction with the Midrasha Tzionit, OTS’s local partner in the endeavor. Rabbi Riskin expressed his fervent prayer, shared by all, that the new bayit will serve as a vibrant center through which Torah and Zionism will grow and spread throughout the Ukraine.
Over 100 students and families from Kiev flocked to the workshops and classes over the weekend, including lectures by Rabbi Riskin and Batei Ohr Torah head Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum. Participants ranged in their ages, interests, backgrounds and levels of observance. However, all shared the vision of strengthening Jewish identity, knowledge, practice and unity. While it is difficult to capture the weekend’s special atmosphere in words, one participant did say, “these activities are raising the bar for all Jewish activity that currently exists in Kiev.”
During Rabbi Riskin’s talk toward the end of Shabbat, he shared stories of his visits to Russia under the Iron Curtain, and concluded with a statement that summed up the feelings of the entire Beit Ohr Torah staff: “We are God’s contractors in this world,” he said. “As long as the work is not completed, it is our duty to continue to dedicate ourselves to the benefit of am yisrael, to the strengthening of Jewish identity and values, and to spreading the light and warmth of the Torah throughout the world.”