Ohr Torah Stone’s newest program, OTS Amiel BaKehilla, was created in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs with the aim of empowering Jewish communities around the world through Jewish education, Israel engagement and Jewish arts & culture. Working with small and mid-sized communities around the world, OTS Amiel BaKehilla brings dynamic programming, speakers and educators to unite, excite and connect Jews to their local community and the State of Israel.
In honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut, the first delegation departed to Poland at the end of April.
“I am a Rabbi in this community, and I am very aware of the importance of your coming here. Words are important and are good, but your music has opened something in our hearts that is beyond what we have here in this community.” So said Rabbi David Szychowski, the Rabbi of Lodz to Mishael Dickman, a talented guitarist and keyboardist who joined the very first OTS Amiel BaKehila delegation to Poland this year.
The delegation was led by Rabbi Boaz Pash, Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone’s Torat Yosef kollel, and included photographer and public relations expert Laura Ben David (whose photography is featured in this piece).
Amiel BaKehila will send over 50 similar delegations to 24 small and mid-sized Jewish communities around the world. While this delegation to Poland visited Lodz, Warsaw and Wroclaw for just a few days each, over their very short time they succeeded in having a powerful impact on the members of the Polish Jewish community.
Leaving Israel at the conclusion of Yom Haatzmaut, the delegation arrived in Warsaw in time to take part in the Warsaw community’s celebrations of Israel’s independence. Laura spoke from the heart of the beauty of Israel and the people living here, accompanied by a picture slide show which touched the hearts of all. Mishael’s music added a special spark and liveliness to the evening bringing the songs of Israel to Poland, as did Rav Boaz’s words of Torah. Over their time in Warsaw they spoke, taught and engaged community members in the Jewish day school, the senior center and the Jewish Community Center as well as reaching out to individual members of the community at large.
From Warsaw, the delegation proceeded to Wroclaw, where they were received with open arms. The community was thrilled with the talks, the music and the overall atmosphere created by our talented three representatives. They spoke with the children at the school, with the families at the local coffee shop and in the evening with Jewish students.
Shabbat was spent with the community in Lodz creating a special atmosphere. Over Shabbat each delegation member gave a workshop: Laura spoke about Israel, Rav Boaz taught Parshat HaShavua and Mishael taught and led songs throughout. The moving and special Shabbat came to a close with a meaningful, musical Havdalah service led by Mishael on the guitar, accompanied by a member of the community with her violin, creating a magical atmosphere to which the members joined in song and dance.
Coming home, both the delegation and the communities communicated the unique and powerful nature of the OTS Amiel BaKehila visit. In addition to the Jewish and Israeli content that they taught, the delegation members strengthened old connections while forging new ones as well. This visit was just the first of seven during the course of the coming year, and each of the communities looks forward to our return.
We’re looking forward as well!