Deeply understanding the issues facing the worldwide Jewish community and how we can work towards global Jewish unity is the focus of this year’s Orthodox Union Convention, to take place Friday, December 26 through Sunday, December 28 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel 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?”
OU President Martin Nachimson of Los Angeles declared, “As the Orthodox Unionconvenes for its biannual National Convention, we face a world of virulent and undeserved hostility to Israel and to the Jewish people. At such a time, for there to be even a shred of disunity among the Jewish people is a terrible misfortune. With enemies on every side – including on college campuses where our own Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) programs are located – can we be our own enemies as well? Our Convention will deal with global Jewish unity and when we leave late on Sunday, December 28, we should leave encouraged that the Orthodox Union is doing all it can in the interests of promoting Am Echad- One People.”
To help put a human face on the plight of our brothers and sisters abroad, a plenary of rabbis will be the keynote speakers on Shabbat, including Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth (Great Britain); Rabbi Daniel Oppenheimer, chief Ashkenazic rabbi of Buenos Aires; 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.
Rabbi Hershel Schachter, senior halachic decisor (posek) 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.” (Commandments Between Man and his Fellow Man – Righeousness and Loving Kindness.”) Orthodox Union Executive Vice President, Emeritus Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb,a noted speaker and psychologist, will open the program.
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. Chani 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 inJerusalem, in this 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 Ya’akov Trump, assistant rabbi at the Young Israel of Lawrence-Cedarhurst; andRachel Friedman, director of the new Lamdeinu Center for Jewish Learning. 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 its 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.”