A new class of rabbinical and educational emissaries graduated in Jerusalem this week ahead of their departure to Jewish communities across the globe.
The latest class of the Beren-Amiel and Straus-Amiel Emissary Institutes of Ohr Torah Stone will join 280 emissaries already in 96 cities in 34 countries around the world - including destinations across North and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
The graduation ceremony, held at the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs in Jerusalem, included an address by Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai (Labor) on the importance and challenges of their upcoming missions and a discussion with Deputy Director Haggai Elitzur.
“These emissaries are being dispatched to perform a critical service in the communities and schools throughout the Diaspora,” Minister Shai said. “I am convinced that Jewish education, face to face, teacher to student, is the key to the survival of the Jewish people. The best investment of the State of Israel is in our emissaries to the Jewish world. The work that awaits you is of utmost importance and the people of Israel and the Diaspora Ministry stand behind you and wish you only the greatest of success.”
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog also addressed the class, saying, “Your work as emissaries to the Jews of the Diaspora is critical for the future of the Jewish people. You are on the frontlines of the battle over the State of Israel’s image in the world and of the struggle for Jewish, Zionist, and Israeli identities in this effort to connect to our brothers and sisters across the Jewish world and with the greater Jewish family.”
The emissary institutes train husband and wife teams with a specific goal of providing rabbinic, educational, social and cultural support in international locales with a strong existing Jewish infrastructure as well as in places with tiny Jewish communities, off the beaten path.
“In their work with communities, schools, and campuses all over the world, we know our emissaries play an integral role in educating and inspiring the Jewish community to become more connected to their personal heritages and traditions,” said Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum, founding director of the Beren-Amiel and Straus-Amiel institutes. “That connection brings passion towards a stronger Jewish future both in the Diaspora and here in Israel.”
"The COVID pandemic dramatically has changed many of the ways that Jews in communities come together, practice and express their Jewishness in the Diaspora," said Ohr Torah Stone President and Rosh Hayeshiva Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander. "Many communities are struggling to return to 'normal,' pre-pandemic levels of affiliation, others are interested in restrengthening their ties to Israel. We believe that there is no replacement for actually having committed and experienced ‘boots on the ground,’ teaching, supporting, and inspiring people of all ages.”