European rabbis gather in Finald
European rabbis gather in FinaldEli Itkin

Dozens of rabbis from England, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus participated in a professional conference organized by the Conference of European Rabbis and the Hulya organization in Helsinki, Finland.

The Hulya organization aims to learn the methods of dealing with the challenges in Europe and operates within the framework of the Matanel Foundation of Luxembourg.

"The challenges facing the rabbis of the communities in particular and the different organizations around the world and specifically in Europe are many," said Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis and the Chief Rabbi of Moscow. “These challenges must be dealt with using the appropriate tools for the conditions that exist today. Unfortunately, the percentage of assimilation is very high. The community rabbis are the spearhead and main axis of the organizations that work to protect and strengthen the Jewish community, which, unfortunately, does not observe Torah and mitzvot."

In his remarks, Rabbi Goldschmidt described the Reform movement as one of the greatest challenges of our time.

"They are equipped with tremendous resources. They have created a ‘light’ Judaism that is pleasant to the young people and constitutes a great platform for assimilation and loss of a very significant part of the Jewish people. We must know how to act wisely and resolutely against this activity,” he said.

Rabbis gather in Finalnd (‎Eli Itkin)
Rabbis gather in Finalnd (‎Eli Itkin)

During the conference, rabbis, educators and professionals discussed new ways to facilitate Torah study and halakhah, setting up religious frameworks for children of rabbis in small communities, proper use of the media and computers, fundraising and more.

Rabbi Moshe Lebel, the rabbinic director of the conference and head of the Torat Chaim Yeshiva in Moscow, read a letter written by Lithuanian-haredi leader Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman to a rabbinical conference that gathered in France five years ago.

In his letter, Rabbi Shteinman strongly criticized the Reform movement and wrote, “We must prevent the influence of those sects of the falsifiers of religion - the Reform and the like - who have already caused spiritual destruction among Jews in these countries, and as I have now heard, they are trying to place their hands on the leadership of the communities. At this time, we must strengthen those who stand guard over the rabbinate in the leadership of the communities in accordance with the Torah and the spirit of Israel, as well as those who extend their hand to those who do not know how to ask, and everyone must work to bring to every site Torah scholars to set up regular lessons and spread the Torah to the local residents in order to save them and bring them back to Judaism.”

The rabbis concluded the conference by inaugurating an elegant new mikveh built by the Hulya organization and the local community.