(Courtesy of Ohr Torah Stone) Ohr Torah Stone (OTS), the modern Orthodox network of 27 educational institutions in Israel, granted 62 degrees to 57 graduates of its rabbinical and emissary programs at its commencement ceremonies recently. The event also marked an important milestone, the 500th emissary couple to complete the Ohr Torah Stone emissary training programs: Rabbi Netanel and Rabbanit Sarah Ansani.
The ceremonies took place at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and featured speeches from Chief Rabbi David Lau; OTS President and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander; OTS Founder Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin; and the leadership of Ohr Torah Stone’s Beren-Amiel Program for Educational Emissaries, Straus-Amiel Program for Rabbinical Emissaries, Claudia Cohen Women Educators Institute, and Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary’s two kollels, training rabbis for Israel and the Diaspora, respectively.
This year’s graduates of the rabbinical and emissary programs will serve communities around the world, including New Jersey, Nebraska, Washington, D.C., Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Portugal, Australia, Singapore, Ethiopia, South Africa and Israel.
“Each of the individuals and couples we celebrated today embody intellectual and emotional growth as well as new leadership skills they’ve developed throughout their years learning at Ohr Torah Stone. They serve as an inspiration to all their teachers and most of them will very soon serve as religious guides to our brothers and sisters in Israel and throughout the international Jewish world,” said Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander.
“Our emissaries are serving critical roles throughout the world today, positively influencing the lives of Jews with a variety of backgrounds who are searching to connect to their faith and tradition,” he added. “They give Diaspora communities so much, simultaneously growing and learning from their experiences. When they return to Israel after several years abroad, they bring that experience back and use their new skills and knowledge to enrich communities they engage with in Israel.”
Israeli Chief Rabbi David Lau congratulated the graduates and spoke about their responsibility to relate to each and every member of their new communities, while also continuing to nourish their own spiritual needs.
The event also marked the milestone graduation of Ohr Torah Stone’s 500th emissary couple, Rabbi Netanel and Rabbanit Sarah Ansani. Both moved to Israel on their own and served as Lone Soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces where they met and married before beginning their studies at the Straus-Amiel and Claudia Cohen Institute emissary training programs. Rabbi Ansani additionally received his rabbinic ordination from the Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary’s Torat Yosef Kollel.
Addressing the Ansanis as well as their peers, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin said, “Today, there are many Jews throughout Israel and the Diaspora who have lost touch with their heritage, traditions and the Torah - which belongs to us all. One of the most important challenges you will find in your new roles of spiritual and educational leadership is restoring these lost items to them.”