Two Local Shuls Host Israeli Guest Lecturers

Two Local Shuls Host Israeli Guest Lecturers

The lecturers – Rabbis, educators and thought-leaders from around the world – were part of World Mizrachi’s Israel360 program.

Rabbi Adam Starr
Rabbi Adam Starr

Two Atlanta Orthodox synagogues joined some 100 communities nationwide to host Torah scholars as part of World Mizrachi’s annual Israel360 program during the Hebrew month of Iyar.

For a fifth year, World Mizrachi – the umbrella movement for religious Zionism – sent rabbis, educators and thought-leaders to synagogues as guest lecturers.

“Our sages teach us that from Zion will come Torah, and as we look at our calendar, both at the period between Pesach and Shavuot in general, but also at the month of Iyar in specific, it only highlights Israel’s role as the center of the collective Jewish soul,” said World Mizrachi Chairman Rav Doron Perez. “As a result, we’ve taken the month of Iyar as an opportunity to further promote our common love for Israel and Torah through our Israel360 program. We hope that it will continue to grow and further provide opportunities to connect Jews around the world.”

Congregation Ohr HaTorah

Rabbi Adam Starr at Ohr HaTorah said that when he saw the list of 70 possible lecturers, he knew exactly who he wanted to speak to his congregation.

“I have been a big fan of his,” said Starr, referring to Rabbi David Stav, chief rabbi of the city of Shoham in Israel. Stav is also the cofounder and chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, whose goal is to provide religious services and to create dialogue with the overall Israeli population.

“We lucked out. He is a strong leader, a principled leader,” Starr said of Stav. “I’m appreciative of his message. He made the process of getting married in Israel” more efficient and acceptable to Jewish Israelis. “He saw a problem and he fixed it.”

Many members of Ohr HaTorah were familiar with Stav, and Starr said that the four lectures the rabbi gave in early May were well-received.

Congregation Beth Jacob // Photo by Nathan Posner

At Beth Jacob Atlanta, Bronx-born Rabbi Zev Leff was the Israel360 guest lecturer. Leff was the rabbi of Young Israel of Greater Miami before making aliyah with his family in 1983. He has served for decades as the rabbi of Moshav Matityahu, a small religious community in central Israel.

This year, with the goal of reinforcing the relationship between Israel and diaspora Jews, Israel360 was incorporated into Mizrachi’s Chodesh Iyar Initiative, which capitalizes on Israel’s national holidays of Yom HaZikaron, Yom Ha’atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim, as well as New York’s Israel Day parade.

“Mizrachi’s Israel360 program is the most experiential way we can bring the flavor and excitement of Torat Eretz Yisrael to our religious Zionist communities around the United States during this season,” said Religious Zionists of America Executive Vice President Rabbi Ari Rockoff.

Founded in 1902, Mizrachi has been the voice of the Orthodox movement in the World Zionist Organization for almost 120 years. It is based in Jerusalem, with branches across the globe.

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