Arutz Sheva was on the scene as 130 Orthodox rabbis and community leaders gathered in Jerusalem Monday as part of the World Zionist Organization's (WZO) annual conference.
Participants assembled at the Ramada Hotel from 42 countries, including the United States, France, Brazil, Germany, Croatia, Russia, Spain, Argentina, Greece, India, Turkey and Austria.
This year the conference's theme was "the unity of the Jewish people in times of crisis," spurring rabbis and leaders to address the challenges facing their diverse communities and discuss creative solutions.
Isak Haleva, the chief rabbi of Turkey, alongside Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern opened the conference.
In particular, rabbis dealt with issues such as global anti-Semitism, the security of Jewish communities worldwide considering the recent spread of anti-Semitism, and Western assimilation.
Two of the primary focuses were the security of French Jewry, which has severely deteriorated in recent years as anti-Semitic violence has increased throughout France, and the challenges of maintaining religious Judaism while living in open Western societies.
During the conference, the rabbis also met with senior Israeli leadership figures from the fields of politics, security, and the rabbinate.
These figures included the Minister of Economy and Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), who also holds the Diaspora portfolio; mothers of the three teenage boys kidnapped in June; and senior security figures.
Bennett discussed Jews' Biblical connection to the land of Israel, saying "public opinion isn’t my compass, the Torah is my compass. For 3,000 years the Land of Israel has belonged to the Jewish people."
Conference organizer Rabbi Yechiel Wasserman, who serves as the head of the WZO’s Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora, also addressed the crowd.
"The unity of the Jewish people in times of crisis is our theme," Wasserman announced. He added that "as part of the conference, we will visit with Jewish communities living close to Gaza, in a show of solidarity with the residents."
“We gather in Jerusalem, rabbis from around the world, in order to emphasize the centrality of Israel in the life of Jews in the Diaspora and discuss ways of dealing with the waves of anti-Semitism in the world,” concluded Wasserman.