Chief Rabbi of Zurich, Switzerland Noam Hertig is a musmach of the Joseph & Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary’s Kollel Torat Yosef and a graduate of the Straus-Amiel Rabbinical Emissary Program.
Rabbi Hertig is being honored for building and strengthening Jewish community in the face of the challenges presented by COVID-19. In honoring him, we are also honoring our 277 OTS emissaries across the globe for their selfless dedication to the Jewish people – always, and especially during this pandemic.
“I think my biggest challenge as a rabbi and ours as a community in recent months has also turned into our biggest success – namely, figuring out how to connect with our many elderly community members who really miss participating in community events, whether coming to shul or joining holiday, social or educational programs. At the same time, many need a lot of help with shopping and preparing meals for Shabbat. We’ve mobilized a group of young volunteers who help with shopping, and just as importantly, to connect with the elderly on a personal level.
In addition to providing volunteer support, we’ve organized a full program of online activities. The Zoom Kabbalat Shabbat programs we hold on Friday afternoons and havdallah on Saturday evening after Shabbat have become extremely popular. People see their neighbors online, sing together, and tell us that these programs lift their spirits and help them get through the week.”
During two years of weekly sessions, Ohr Torah Stone’s Straus-Amiel Rabbinical Emissary Program prepares rabbinical students with practical tools and training in areas such as public speaking, marketing, fundraising, formal and informal education and family counseling, in preparation for assuming roles as rabbis and Jewish leaders in Diaspora communities across the globe. Today, the program’s rabbinical emissaries are serving across North America, South America, Australia and Europe, empowering people in communities of all sizes to lead rich Jewish lives as they respond to the varied personal, spiritual and communal challenges that have arisen due to COVID-19. Leadership of the Straus-Amiel program are in constant touch with their former students, providing guidance to help them respond to brand new questions that have arisen, on everything from how to celebrate the happiest of moments such as a birth or marriage, or how to mourn the loss of a loved one.