Over 200 people were in attendance on Wednesday evening as the Torah MiTzion organization sent off its newest shlichim (emissaries) to their worldwide destinations with a special blessing.
Forty shlichim and their families took part in the event held at the City of David in Jerusalem. Within the next month, the shlichim will fly to ten Jewish communities around the world, in South Africa, Australia, Europe and North and South America. Torah MiTzion learning centers already function successfully in cities such as Moscow, Lima, Montivideo, St. Louis, Sydney, Montreal, Toronto, Munich and Warsaw.
While abroad, the idealistic emissaries will establish or strengthen existing Torah MiTzion kollel learning centers for Jewish youth and organize classes and other activities with a religious Zionist spirit for the communities they are in, while their wives will organize classes, seminaries and other religious-Zionist activities for women.
The "Torah MiTzion Kollel" program establishes centers for the study of Torah and promulgates Jewish identity with an emphasis on the connection between Torah and Israel. These learning centers take the form of a Beit Midrash in which the post-army Israeli Torah scholars, while immersing themselves in study, reach out to local Jewish youth. In the process, they enrich the Jewish communities that host them, promoting the lofty ideals of Torah, Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael.
Most of the shlichim are recent graduates of the hesder yeshivot, where Jewish study is combined with military service in the IDF. These learned young men and women are carefully selected and brought from Israel for a period of one or two years.
The shlichim also encourage youth and families to come to Israel to study and, eventually, to make aliyah. Torah MiTzion publishes a weekly online journal in English and Hebrew, which focuses on Torah study and aims to connect the shlichim wherever they may be around the world. Arutz Sheva regularly posts one of the articles discussing the weekly Torah portion on the Judaism section of its English website.
Special guests at Wednesday’s ceremony were Rabbi Ben Tzion Elgazi, dean of the Kerem BeYavne Yeshiva - the first hesder yeshiva, founded in 1953 -and Deputy Education Minister, MK Avi Wortzman (Bayit Yehudi). A certificate of appreciation was awarded to Tzvi Tzvibel, head of the religious Zionist Mifalot organization, who is largely credited with the practical success of the Bnei Akiva yeshiva network and many other religious Zionist educational projects at the behest of his revered mentor, the late Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neriah who created the concept of the Bnei Akiva yeshiva and headed its network for many years.
One of the shlichim is Netanel Tzadok, a resident of Modi’in who will be taking off towards Perth, Australia. Tzadok was a councillor at Bnei Akiva, proceeded to study at the hesder yeshiva in Modi’in and served in the IDF’s Golani Brigade.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Tzadok said, “I was debating what to do next year. I wanted to find a way to combine Torah and work in a good way, and looked into a number of options. At the same time, two of my friends from the yeshiva who served as Torah MiTzion shlichim in Washington this past year kept in touch with me during the year and told me about the great activities they initiated in the community. I really liked the idea, and as I began the application process for Torah MiTzion I realized this was the place for me. Together with a highly qualified team, I will be happy to contribute to the local community in any way possible. I am very excited about the shlichut. Beyond it being a once in a lifetime experience, it is really an opportunity to contribute to the people of Israel in a significant and exceptional way.”
Zeev Schwartz, Director-General of Torah MiTzion, noted the organization was entering this year its “Chai” (18th) year of activities aimed at strengthening the religious-Zionist aspect of Jewish communities in the Diaspora.
He added that this year, Torah MiTzion launched a new program called LILMOD, which provides interactive online Torah study.
"This is another tool which connects religious Zionism and communities abroad. There is now an online network where hundreds use LILMOD's Torah courses to study in Russian and German,” said Schwartz. For more details visit http://www.lilmod.org/index.php
In addition, Torah MiTzion is currently recruiting female midrasha students for a new and unique shlichut program called Bnot Tzion (lit. daughters of Zion). As part of the program, Torah MiTzion will send female shlichim abroad so that they can empower communities in the Diaspora with an emphasis on women's seminaries, group learning and more.