Rabbi Shmuel Eliyah dances with attendees
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyah dances with attendees OU Israel

For seven years now, the youth centers of OU Israel have held an exciting selichot conference in Jerusalem on the eve of Yom Kippur. The conferences were initiated by Mrs. Anita Shafran from Canada in the memory of her parents, David and Lil Shafran, who were Holocaust survivors. The idea came to her after hearing from a number of boys in Tiberias that they never had the privilege of visiting Jerusalem. At that moment she decided that every boy and girl from the youth centers would come to Jerusalem once a year and she’ll fund the entire cost of this day. Mrs. Shaffern participated during the whole event via Zoom and was excited from afar together with the youth.

In a conference held in the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem, hundreds of teenagers participated from all over the country, from Katsrin in the Golan Heights to Dimona in the Negev. They heard speeches in preparation for Yom Kippur from the organization's VP Haim Pelzner, MK Ofir Sofer, the organization's CEO Rabbi Avi Berman and the Chief Rabbi of Safed and a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.

During the conference, the organization presented to Rabbi Eliyahu the “Gozo” game which was developed within the organization. This game simulates the aliyah of the Ethiopians to the Land of Israel and the hardships they went through on the way. The rabbi was excited to see the game and hoped this would lead to a faster integration of the community in the country.

Shortly after, the rabbi went up to the stage to wish the youth a shana tova and Gmar chatima tova, concluding his blessings with a sweeping dance off the stage while singing holiday related songs. The rabbi was very dedicated, taking the time to bless, hug and empower each and every boy.

The CEO of OU Israel, Rabbi Avi Berman: "This is the seventh year we have had the privilege of gathering in Jerusalem with the teenagers from the youth centers. For some of them, this is the first time they've been to Jerusalem. This all started thanks to three boys from Tiberias who came to Jerusalem for the first time in their lives. Mrs. Antia Shafarn heard about the boys' dream and took upon herself this tremendous mitzvah. It was exciting to see the youth full of prayers and yearning for the building of Jerusalem and for the new year. Happy and sweet New Year to all the people of Israel."