More than 7,000 people took part in a weekend of Jewish learning last week, as Israeli educators flew in to speak to British Jews at synagogues around the country.
The Mizrachi-organised ‘Weekend of Inspiration’ event, spanning 37 Jewish communities and seven schools, involved a programme of talks from speakers including 28 religious-Zionist and Modern Orthodox rabbis.
Among the speakers were two bereaved mothers including Torah educator Rachelle Fraenkel, whose teenage son Naftali was kidnapped and murdered along with two other boys in 2014, prompting the last Gaza war. Joining her was Cheryl Mandel, whose 24-year old son Daniel was killed in Nablus in 2003 while serving in the IDF.
At Kinloss in London, the programme of events began with a talk called ‘Anti-Zionism as the new Antisemitism,’ by Rabbi Doron Perez, head of Mizrachi World Movement, while younger participants took part in a youth track for Years 9 to 13.
Other talks covered subjects such as religious Zionism, leadership, outreach, kashrut, financial planning for those making aliyah – even a session on “developing the rounded Jewish personality”.
Senior Sephardi Rabbi Joseph Dweck gave an evening talk titled ‘why every Jew should be fixated on Israel’ while Israeli journalist Sivan Rahav-Meir took part in a panel discussion about Israeli technological prowess.
The keynote events on Thursday evening provided a simultaneous launch to the weekend, with activities at Borehamwood, Bushey, Chigwell, Edgware, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Hendon, Leeds and Salford.
Organisers said the educators spoke to 6,000 Jews in synagogues and 1,400 students in seven schools including JFS, Hasmonean and Yavneh High School in Manchester.
“We were delighted to provide such a high calibre of educators,” said Mizrachi UK chief executive Rabbi Andrew Shaw.
“Our aim is to produce the future Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist leadership for the UK community. This weekend demonstrated what that leadership could look like.”
Perez added that it was “a remarkable expression of Mizrachi UK’s impact…It was a privilege to be a part of it”.