Deeply understanding the issues facing the global Jewish community and how we can work towards global Jewish unity is the focus of this year’s Orthodox Union Convention, taking place Friday, December 26 through Sunday, December 28, 2014 at the Tarrytown Hilton in Tarrytown, New York.
“After war broke out in Israel this summer and the resurfacing of virulent anti-Semitism throughout the world, it’s been so troubling and painful. We have an obligation to discuss what’s going on with global Jewry. This is an 800-pound gorilla,” said Dr. Shimmy Tennenbaum, chairman of the OU Convention. “Jews in America have a comparatively easier and more pleasant diaspora, but do we have all the facts? What needs to be done on our part as Jewish Americans?”
To help put a human face on the plight of our brothers and sisters abroad, a plenary of chief rabbis will be the keynote speakers on Shabbat, including Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth; Rabbi Daniel Oppenheimer, chief Ashkenazic rabbi of Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie, M.D., who leads the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue in Manhattan.
Rabbi Mirvis, who will also speak during Shabbat morning services, pronounced himself “delighted that the theme of working towards global Jewish unity has been chosen as a key element of the Convention, as this must be one of our key aspirations.”
Other leading rabbinic and communal figures will address some of the most pressing issues facing Jewry today, from the escalation of terrorism in Israel and rampant anti-Semitism across the globe, to the internal challenges facing the identities of American Jews.
Orthodox Union Executive Vice President, Emeritus Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, a noted speaker and psychologist, will open the program. Rabbi Hershel Schachter, senior halachic decisor for OU Kosher and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), will discuss “Laws of Shmittah for the Consumer,” and “Mitzvot Bein Adam L’Chaveiro—Tzedakah and Chesed.”
Presented in two parts—a full Shabbat open to families, couples and synagogue delegates with a global perspective and a Sunday morning program geared towards American Jewish challenges—the weekend will feature seminars, panels, Q&A sessions and classes.
“Bringing Orthodox Women into the Leadership Table” will be a highlight of the Sunday session, dedicated to brainstorming viable options for observant women to have a stronger voice in leadership decisions. Anne Neuberger, chief risk officer of the United States National Security Agency (NSA) will join Rabbanit Chana Henkin, founder and dean of Nishmat, the Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women in Jerusalem, in this facilitated discussion.
Sessions addressing other pulsing issues of our community will be presented by Rabbi Leonard Matanky, president of the Rabbinical Council of America; Rabbanit Henkin, Rabbi Yaakov Trump, assistant rabbi at the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst; and Rachel Friedman, director of the new Lamdeinu Center for Jewish Learning in Teaneck. Cantor Yanky Lemmer of Lincoln Square Synagogue will lead Shabbat davening.
Issues facing the global Jewish community and what we can do about them will be engaged from lay and rabbinical perspectives.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, together with Richard Stone, former chairman of the Conference of Presidents, will speak Friday evening.
“The OU plays a vital role in advocating for the particular and universal interests of the Orthodox Jewish community but also plays an important broader role in American Jewish life,” Mr. Hoenlein said. “The OU Convention is an opportunity to showcase their involvements and accomplishments but also to discuss the critical domestic and international issues facing American and world Jewry.”
With a focus on Jewish family and communal life in America, Sunday’s seminars will offer unique, goal-oriented insights. Workshops on Sunday will include “Progress in the Field of Jewish Day School Affordability,” “Instilling Spirituality Into Our Children’s Lives,” “Pre-Nuptials and Post-Nuptials,” and “Navigating Caring For Your Children and Your Parents at the Same Time.”
Childcare options are available for Shabbat and Sunday. Certain convention costs may be tax deductible for shul delegates as per IRS regulations. Consult your tax advisor.
To register and for more information, visit www.ou.org/convention.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.