May 9, 2006 — A unique and far-reaching program aimed at addressing the myriad opportunities and challenges facing Modern Orthodox rabbis in 21st century America is being established at Yeshiva University.

Establishment of the Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Enrichment Initiative, which is being funded by The Legacy Heritage Fund Limited, was announced by YU President Richard M. Joel, who is also president of RIETS, which offers the most extensive educational and professional training program for Orthodox rabbis.

“The Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Enrichment Initiative responds to the challenges of rabbinic leadership,” said President Joel. “We are most grateful not only for the Legacy Heritage Fund’s generosity but for its vision and sophisticated leadership in responding to the manifold needs of contemporary life in the Orthodox community and improving the skills of hundreds of rabbis. The innovative aspects of the Initiative, which are directed to lay leadership, will significantly improve the partnership between lay and professional Jewish leadership which is critical for success and growth.”

The Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Initiative, a program for the continuing education of rabbis, is an undertaking of Legacy Heritage Fund of New York and Jerusalem.

The Orthodox rabbinate is facing issues unprecedented in scope and intensity that cross legal, medical, psychological, sociological, technological, and ethical domains. Rabbis play a multitude of roles and often act as agents of change in developing priorities and programs for their synagogues and communities.

In North America, there are close to 1,000 Modern Orthodox congregations. The enrichment program will provide opportunities to influence the Jewish world significantly by energizing the Jewish community through continuing education and networking of Orthodox rabbis.

“Even the most comprehensive rabbinical school courses cannot prepare rabbis for everything they will confront once they are in the field and, at the same time, face the realities of rabbinic life.” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of the Center for the Jewish Future. “This extraordinary program will play a critical role in serving the needs of the larger Jewish community.”

The objectives of the Legacy Heritage Enrichment Initiative will cover the many facets of rabbis’ professional and personal lives.

“Equally important for the Orthodox community is an engaged, committed, and sophisticated lay leadership fully conversant with the details of synagogue management, the values of Jewish tradition, and the realities of local and national Jewish communal life,” said Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, senior scholar at the Center for the Jewish Future who, with Rabbi Brander, will play the programming role in orchestrating this initiative. “Working in close partnership with their rabbis, these lay leaders will be inspired and educated to fulfill their role in a meaningful way.”

The enrichment program is comprised of six modules:

•Yarchei Kallah Programs consisting of retreats that enable significant numbers of committed pulpit rabbis to become more successful in their work by sharpening their public presentation skills – through exposure to homiletical and historical materials, and strategies in board development and retention, time management, creative programming, and pedagogy.
•Annual National Conference for lay and professional leadership featuring nationally renowned experts in their fields as well as Yeshiva University Roshei Yeshiva (professors or Talmud) and faculty members.
•Regional Rabbinic Seminars fostering partnerships between rabbis and their lay leaders in order to develop effective community life.
•Community Days of Learning to engage the larger American Jewish community in issues of contemporary interest. They will feature local rabbis, faculty of Yeshiva University, and recognized experts in their respective fields.
•Mentorship of Young Rabbis by Master Rabbis, an informal educational program that will provide a venue for openness, intimacy, and sharing. Younger rabbis will benefit from mentorship, while the senior rabbis gain satisfaction from their interaction with younger colleagues.
•Resource Center at Yeshiva University – drawing on YU’s vast resources of Judaic scholarship to provide direction to pulpit rabbis in a host of areas, such as medicine, law, grant writing, research, crafting speeches, contract negotiations, and other matters. The community rabbi and his specific need will be matched with an expert at the University, enabling a direct connection between YU resources and rabbis in the field.

The Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Enrichment Initiative is designed to help rabbis and lay leaders maximize their effectiveness. The Legacy Heritage Fund Limited will, in effect, be responsible for furthering the intensity of Jewish life in many communities throughout North America and will be a major force in American Jewish adult education.

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