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SA’s rabbis exposed to cutting-edge ideas during Rabbinical Conference

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About 40 South African rabbis have just returned from their annual Rabbinical Conference in Israel, where they focused on cutting-edge training in leadership, geopolitical affairs and modern halachic issues.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Jul 19, 2018

While throughout the year our rabbis give to their communities, this three-day conference – held in Israel to mark the Jewish State’s 70th anniversary – was to expose South Africa’s rabbinical leaders to experts in an array of fields sharing up-to-date developments in their areas.

“We heard from top geopolitical experts, journalists, leadership experts, psychologists and halachic experts,” says Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein. “As the country’s rabbinical leaders, we want to continue serving our communities with distinction, being the best we can be and sharing the incredible experiences and learnings we were fortunate to pick up on this trip.”

Rabbi Ron Hendler, who managed and co-ordinated the conference from beginning to end, says: “We were privileged to meet with leaders in a variety of fields, and to be exposed to some of the world’s top rabbinical scholars and educators.”

The speakers included Israeli journalist and author Sivan Rahav Meir, who discussed the media; Supreme Court judge Neal Hendel, who explored the complex relationship between Jewish and Israeli law; and leadership expert Dr Simcha Liebowitz, who shared some of the secrets to building a strong volunteer culture.

Also on the bill, Major General Uzi Dayan offered insights into Jewish history and modern-day peace and security challenges, while Dr Emmanuel Navon, an Israeli political scientist and foreign policy expert teaching at Tel Aviv University, gave the group the inside track on the complexities of the Syrian conflict, Russia’s role in the conflict, and the military and diplomatic implications for Israel.

For many, the highlight of the conference was the opportunity to engage with, and learn from, some of the world’s top halachic authorities, including Rabbi Osher Weiss (head rabbi at Shaarei Zedek hospital in Jerusalem), Rabbi Hershel Schachter (Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University in New York), Rabbi Aryeh Stern (Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem) and Rabbi Professor Avraham Steinberg (a world-renowned medical ethicist and paediatric neurologist).

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, Rabbi David Lau, was also among those who addressed the delegation, expressing his admiration for the South African Jewish community – whose warmth and unity he experienced first hand on a visit to the country in 2015.

“As the South African Jewish community, we are blessed with rabbis who see each other as colleagues, not competitors,” says Goldstein, “as teammates working together towards common goals.

“As the delegation returns to South Africa, we look forward to sharing the eye-opening and inspiring experiences of this trip with the entire community.”

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