Ohr Torah Stone’s Beren-Amiel and Straus-Amiel emissary training programs brought together 42 of its North, Central and South American emissaries in Cancún, Mexico, to address ways to tackle critical issues affecting smaller Diaspora Jewish communities, including conversion, assimilation and how to educate a generation of Jews with virtually no connection to Judaism.
Participants in the three-day conference hailed from the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama, El Salvador and Ecuador shared best practices and discussed the communal and personal challenges they face in their daily work. American participants came from Englewood, N.J.; Sharon, Mass.; Charleston, S.C.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Omaha, Neb.; Detroit; and Miami and Aventura, Fla.
“The greatest challenge these men and woman face is how to transmit Judaism to people with no connection. We work with these exceptional rabbis and educators to provide them with the training, development and support to be successful emissaries in their communities,” said Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum, director of the Straus-Amiel and Beren-Amiel programs. “But an equally important part of our job is to support these families so they can stay in their communities for longer periods of time and continue to make a difference in the lives of Jews everywhere.”
Founded in 1983, Ohr Torah Stone is a Modern Orthodox network of 27 institutions working to transform Jewish life, learning and leadership worldwide.
Rabbi Nir Koren, leader of the 1,000-member Jewish Community of Ecuador, with its synagogue in the capital of Quito, said “we have four generations of Jewish assimilation. There is a big gap in Jewish education with each of these groups and many issues that have never been treated.”
In Ottawa, Canada, Rebbetzin Shifra Sher told the group that a critical part of keeping members of the 325-family Congregation Machzeki Hadas engaged in programming is finding significant roles for women in synagogue and communal life.
Read more at JNS.