Barkai Awards Ceremony
Barkai Awards Ceremony Rafi Freiman

The Barkai Awards Ceremony was held in Modi'in Monday night, during which awards were given in the categories of Rabbi of the year, Gabay of the year and Community of the Year. This year the award focused on initiatives and activities which bolster community resilience through the religious leadership, whilst uniting the community under one structure of will, strength and mutual aid. The ceremony was attended by Rabbi Zvi Rimon, Rabbi Yoni Lavie, rabbis of the Barkai communities throughout the country and more public figures.

Rabbi Yonah Meshulam HaCohen Fodor, Rabbi of the Beit Yehuda Synagogue in the neighborhood of Beit Vagan in Jerusalem, won the title of Rabbi of the Year. Due to a tie in the final scoring, two Gabayim were chosen to receive the Gabay of the Year award - Shalom Atia from the Orot HaTorah community in Bat Yam and Yehonatan Nadav from the Kibbutz Na’an community. The Ramat Eshkol community in Lod was named the community of the year for its steadfast resistance to the riots in the city and the resilience of its members.

The ceremony marked the fifth cycle of a community rabbinical training program during which rabbis from various communities across the country undergo training. The training takes over 600 hours of study, spread over two years, once a week. It includes lessons in halakhic issues as well as in social and community areas. This, to promise that the rabbis participating in the program will receive comprehensive guidance, ultimately making them more supportive and attentive to the needs of their community. In addition, the organization also schedules seminars and mini-courses for the wives of the rabbis who contribute and are involved in the community as well.

The Barkai organization was founded a decade ago and currently consists of 75 communities spread throughout the country. The organization believes that it’s possible and necessary to build the communities in Israel in a different, more professional and orderly way, facilitating the growth of these communities and enhancing their resilience through support for their members.

Rabbi David Fine, head of the Barkai organization: "It is important to us that exemplary communities, Gabayim and rabbis know that their work is valued and cherished. We see their dedication and want to say thank you. Eretz Israel is a better place thanks to them. That’s our objective in Barkai; We wish to turn our communities into more caring and supportive ones, creating better people."

His colleague, Rabbi Shlomo Sobol, added: "The Covid period, followed by the clashes in the mixed localities, posed a challenge to all the communities in Israel. It was a periodical test for the communities' ability to mobilize all the forces and resources in support of those in need. We in Barkai invested many hours of understanding the physical and mental needs of the community together with the population around us, while providing a response. There indeed was a positive outcome which could definitely be seen, and we are happy about that. "