West Coast Torah Convention/ OU.ORG 2.0

Last Shabbos, I attended the West Coast Torah Convention, which was held concurrently with the JLIC Retreat. As I write this, NCSY is hosting their remarkable Yarchei Kallah. I told you a little about each of these events in anticipation of their execution. You can read about Yarchei Kallah’s upcoming Shabbos in Teaneck in the New Jersey Jewish Standard.

The Orthodox Union National Convention, January 14-16, 2011 at The Hilton at Woodcliff Lake, NJ, is fast approaching! I hope you will join us for what promises to be an exceptional event.

West Coast Torah Convention

As I mentioned last week, the West Coast Torah Convention was more than just a lecture series, it was a communal conversation. The OU provided expertise in the form of scholars and faculty with real-life experience and vast Torah knowledge, who enlightened the community regarding issues that are on everyone’s mind. Scholars came from as far away as Atlanta to address issues of values in the family, the shul and the community. There were no one-sided presentations; each part of the program was designed to engage participants from all walks of life. I, myself, participated on a Friday night panel with Rabbi Michael Broyde on the subject of “Defining our Values.” I can attest that the audience was very animated with relevant, real-life questions and examples.

Another very special part of the Torah Convention was a shiur in memory of Dr. Beth Samuels a”h, a beloved LA local. A passionate Torah educator, this shiur was a fitting tribute. The Torah Convention’s closing session addressed how to implement all the discussions of the weekend, focusing not only on a community’s problems, but also on their successes and how to build on them.

You can watch a video of an exciting session, “Values for Our Future,” featuring OU President Stephen Savitsky, Rabbi Kalman Topp, mara d’asra of Beth Jacob of Beverly Hills, and Julie Fax of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.

Yasher Koach to OU West Coast Director Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, Assistant Director Rabbi Adir Posy, and their entire staff for a phenomenal and substantive event.

OU.ORG 2.0

You’ve no doubt noticed what they’re calling “Phase II” of the new OU web site, ou.org. Among the more prominent new features are:

* A large, rotating graphic, supplemented with links to departmental articles that are updated weekly. Small icons beneath the main graphic light up to identify which department is being highlighted;
* A player featuring “JM in the AM” radio;
* A new Synagogue Services home page;
* And much, much more. (Go online and look around!)

Other new features include the “Synagogue Blog” from Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Director of WINGS (We Inspire New-Growth Synagogues, an initiative of the Synagogue Services department).

The OU website receives about half a million visits each month, more around the holidays. Among the most popular sections are the OU Job Board and OU Torah. In a press releaseabout the new site, Chief Operating Officer David Frankel said that, “the goals of the new OU web site have been to tell the story of the OU by promoting the extraordinary work of the OU’s departments, and the countless ways they enrich Jewish life…”

Concurrently, OU Kosher, under the direction of OU Kosher Website Administrator Rabbi Eli Eleff, has launched a newly-redesigned site for oukosher.org. The new page has increased functionality, allowing consumers to view the latest alerts, kosher news, and newly-certified products right on the homepage, as well as easier access to kosher product searches. You can read all about it here.

Hakaras hatov to OU Director of Internet Development Gary Magder, and his team, including Miriam WeilandMoshe SteinbergAvi BlockAaron GrenadierShelomo Dobkin and Yoel Bender, among many others, for this tremendous (and ongoing) accomplishment.