The verse "Out of Zion shall come Torah" is taken literally by the Torah MiTzion organization that, for the last eighteen years, has sent groups of young singles and newly married couples - called shlichim, emissaries - to Jewish destinations the world over.
Their mission? To establish community-supported Batei Medrash (Torah study centers) in which they set a personal example by engaging in daily Torah study. In addition, they and their wives lecture, organize events, form youth groups, run summer camps and work in myriad ways to strenghthen the community's ties with religious Zionist values and the State of Israel.
Sometimes, their experiences are bitter-sweet. One emissary told of a talk he gave on the "mezuzah" (a scroll of parchment containing verses from the Torah which Jews affix to their doorposts) in a summer program he had run. Most of the youngsters had never heard of one, but one of the participants exclaimed that they have a mezuzah on each door of their home, excepting the kitchen. When asked for the reason, she explained that her mother said that since they do not keep kosher, they should not put a mezuzah on the door to the kitchen.
And the shlichim do not end their work once they return to Israel. Their presence encourages aliyah (immigration to Israel) from the communities they enrich and they find themselves reaping the fruits of their labors and helping the new immigrants they have influenced to make a successful adjustment to living in Israel.
This past Sunday night, Torah MiTzion held a ceremony in Jerusalem to honor the shlichim who returned this summer from their host communities and celebrate its "Chai"- 18th - year of dedicated religious Zionist endeavor.
The over 40 shlichim in attendance returned home from communities in Australia, South Africa, South America, USA, Canada and Europe.
Zeev Schwartz, founding head of Torah MiTzion, presented each shaliach with a diploma together with a gift – a special book of Torah insights that was published in memory of Eyal Yaverboim, former shaliach in Montevideo, Uruguay 1999-2000, murdered by terrorists in his home in the Israeli community of Negohot ten years ago on Rosh Hashana.
Along with the returning shlichim came some of the families with whom they worked and who support the project, such as the Levin family from KTM Montreal.
The Brukner family from the Munich Kollel were there as well. Rabbi Yechiel Brukner served as Rosh Kollel (head of the Torah study center) for five years in Munich, during which time he and his family made a strong impact on the thousands of local German Jews and immigrants from the former Soviet Union living there, meeting a major challenge. He and many of the shlichim shared moving experiences and anecdotes from their time abroad.
During the festive meal, Zeev Schwartz expressed Torah MiTzion's deep appreciation for the shlichim's achievements while in their beloved host communities.
Chairman of the WZO Avraham Duvdevani and Yitzchak Shtiglitz - Executive Director of the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora praised the shlichim and Rabbi Yechiel Wasserman, Head of the Center, was also in attendance. Other well known religious Zionist figures at the ceremony were Solly Sacks - Director General of World Mizrachi, Gael Grunwald - Deputy Chairman of KKL-JNF, and Roi Abicasis - Deputy Secretary General of World Bnei Akiva.
Torah MiTzion was the brainchild of the late Moshe Green, owner of the then-Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem; after his passing, its work expanded with the help of the late Larry Roth. Both men were ardent religious Zionists who believed strongly in the power of Israel's younger generation to influence Diaspora Jewry, and their legacy inspires each group of emissaries.
Arutz Sheva posts a Torah essay written by one of the Torah MiTzion shlichim in the Judaism section each week.