June 12, 2024
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June 12, 2024
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Ohr Torah Stone Pre-Shavuot Learn-a-thon Connects International Jewish Community

Annual tribute to OTS founder, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, to be dedicated this year in memory of Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee, HY”D.

Now in its fourth year, the international Ohr Torah Stone educational network will once again be holding its annual “Pre-Shavuot Learn-a-Thon” in tribute to the organization’s founder and rosh hayeshiva, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. This year’s program will also be dedicated in the memory of Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee, HY”D—with the hope that participants will draw inspiration from the extraordinary values they personified—and emulate Rabbi Leo Dee’s directive to imbue our lives with Torah, focus on what we can do for others, pursue Jewish unity and make the world a better place.

As a visionary religious thinker, community rabbi and educator, Rabbi Riskin’s leadership continues to inspire Jews across Israel and, indeed, around the Jewish world, with his teachings embraced as particularly relevant in a period defined by social and political tensions.

Rabbi Riskin has reinvigorated Jewish life in Israel and throughout the world through innovative educational, leadership and outreach programs—engaging hundreds of thousands of people in Torah Judaism and their Jewish heritage. Today, thanks to Rabbi Riskin’s far-reaching vision, Ohr Torah Stone’s institutions are on the front lines of Jewish life, learning and leadership—offering guidance on contemporary challenges, bringing communities together, providing comfort and responding to critical challenges and needs.

Held on the occasion of Rabbi Riskin’s 83rd birthday, the 12-hour event is built to allow for all time zones to be able to participate. Zoom links to the classes will be available online at https://ots.org.il/shavuot beginning at 11 a.m. EDT on May 23.

Viewers will be able to choose classes from the “Israel channel,” the “international channel” with presentations in multiple languages, and the “dialogue channel,” all featuring Ohr Torah Stone’s top teachers, rabbis and rabbaniyot, alumni and emissaries throughout the world. There will also be a tisch with renowned Jewish musician, Rabbi Shlomo Katz, ordained by Ohr Torah Stone’s rabbinical seminary.

“There is no doubt that our Jewish world finds itself in a period of debate which on occasion tragically borders on the types of conflict which have divided Jews in past eras,” says Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, president and rosh hayeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone. “It is, particularly, in these days that coming together for Torah and scholarly study in tribute to Rabbi Riskin is most appropriate and will ensure that his many years of hard work in building communal and social bridges will bear fruit in these challenging times.”

Among the presenters during the program, Rabbi Dr. Yakov Nagen—director of the Blickle Institute for Interfaith Dialogue at Ohr Torah Stone—will be discussing the “Healing Relationship Between Judaism and World Religions.” In recent years, Rabbi Dr. Nagen has become an internationally-recognized leader in promoting interfaith dialogue.

Rabbi Yoni Rosensweig of Ohr Torah Stone’s Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halachic Leadership (WIHL) will be presenting, “A Case Study in Mental Health and Halacha: Is Depression Considered Life-Threatening?” Rabbi Rosensweig is widely regarded as one of the pre-eminent thinkers and writers about the interaction of halacha and mental health challenges, and has become a sought-after voice of support for many families coping with these challenges across the Jewish world.

Rabbi Dr. Brander will be leveraging his expertise in confronting Jewish medical and social ethical dilemmas in a lecture entitled: “Four-Parent Babies: How Does Halacha Define Paternity and Maternity?”

The entire program and all of the Torah study during this year’s learn-a-thon is being dedicated to the memory of Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee, HY”D, who were murdered in the horrific terror attack over Pesach this year. The Dee family has a long and close connection with Ohr Torah Stone, with Maia having studied at both Neveh Channah High School and Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Lod branch. Rabbi Leo Dee himself received his rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Riskin and the tragedy has been particularly painful for many within the Ohr Torah Stone community, who are close friends or fellow students with the Dee children.

“The past few weeks have been ones of deep emotional pain for the entire Jewish world amidst a rash or terror attacks that have taken so many young lives,” Rabbi Dr. Brander said. “Yet, for our Ohr Torah Stone community, there is no denying that the murders of the Dee sisters and mother—part of the OTS family—is very personal and demanded a wide range of responses from our parents, students and educators. In the days and weeks that have followed, we have only begun to appreciate the tremendous personalities that were extinguished with this tragedy. We, therefore, view it as our personal responsibility to keep their inspirational character alive in all ways possible. It is our hope and prayer that dedicating the power of Torah study will lift up their souls higher and higher.”

More details and zoom links can be found at: https://ots.org.il/shavuot

By Judah Barkai


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