Community Projects

RIKMA emphasizes communal leadership both in the traditional spiritual community framework, and in the arena of social concern. With this in mind, part of the fellowship includes a form of fieldwork in either area, thereby setting a theoretical basis for the fellows' continued work in the future. For fellows in their initial years of academic studies, this is a wonderful opportunity to get "hands-on" experience in educational planning, people and budget management, contact with partner organizations and local government, long before they actually begin their careers. For fellows who are about to complete their studies, this is an opportunity for them to create or run an existing or new organization under the guidance of RIKMA mentors.

Below is a description of community projects that fellows spearheaded this past year:

  • Kehilat Yotzer Or:
    In 2002, Rabbi Uri Ayalon founded the Yotzer Or community in the low-income housing area of the Talpiot neighborhood in Jerusalem. The community is an innovative model that originates from and is completely responsive to the needs of the population, with the goal of creating a vibrant Jewish Israeli community that combines prayer with pluralism and creativity. The community is in operation every day of the week, offering activities, classes and events of different types. For additional details:

  • Kehilat V'Ahavta:
    A traditional-egalitarian community founded by Rabbi Elisha Wolfin in Zikhron Ya'akov. The community targets secular society in the area, offering Jewish celebrations infused with meaning through a wide variety of activities: life-cycle events, a Beit Midrash, and even material assistance on a regular basis to needy families. For additional details:

  • B'Ruach - Spiritual Support for the Sick and Health Care Professionals:
    In November 2002, Rabbi Yonatan Rudnick began offering spiritual support for both patients and staff in the oncology ward at the Shaarei Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Jonathan began his training for the job when he took part in a course in Clinical Pastoral Education in Kansas City. Today he also trains additional people in the field, and is working to make pastoral counseling known in Israel and to advocate for its advancement. For additional details:

  • Kehilat B'vat Ayin:
    The community was established in the town of Rosh HaAyin in central Israel, at the initiative of a few families and with the assistance of Rabbi Ayala Miron. The group meets for family Kabbalat Shabbat services conducted in an egalitarian, Israeli spirit, and also celebrates holidays together. Recently, the group was recognized as a member of the Israeli Reform Movement and today is working to strengthen its activity and to expand its membership base. For additional details:

  • International Center for Culture and Youth (ICCY):
    Shaike el-Ami serves today as the director of a community center that aims to encourage and advance spiritual development in a community framework. The center is located in the German Colony neighborhood of Jerusalem. One of Shaike's main goals in his job is to promote communication between different organizations in the city that foster spiritual community growth.
    For more information:

  • Kehilat Nigun HaLev Community:
    This community, which convenes at Moshav Nahalal in the Yizrael Valley, was initially established by a group of friends who worked together at the Midrasha in Oranim. Chen Tzafoni, today a rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College, was among the founders of the community, and today leads prayer events, coordinates the steering committee, and teaches bar/bat-mitzvah students. The congregation also holds Kabbalat Shabbat and holiday services and bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies.
    For additional details:

  • The Tzur-Hadassah Community of the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel (Reform):
    Since the beginning of 2005, Rabbi Ofer Shabbat Beit HaLahmi has served as the rabbi of the Reform community situated in Tzur Hadassah (a suburb south of Jerusalem numbering over 900 families). The young community, in its 6th year, has 90 member families, and yet is developing a unique perspective and language that speaks to the greater population of Tzur Hadassah and the area between Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.
    The community has two preschools and is greatly involved in the Tzur Hadassah elementary school, placing a special emphasis on personal and practical commitment to all Israel and to social justice.
    For more information:

  • NOAM Rabbi:
    Rabbi Debbie Grinberg has replaced Rabbi Claudia Kreiman as the rabbi for NOAM, the youth movement of the Masorti movement. This position redefines the concept of community in that it is based on a national population, rather than on a geographical one. Her job definition includes pastoral counseling for youth and for the movement's staff and administration, spiritual leadership and education, and a mindfulness about and involvement in social justice.
    For additional details:

  • Kehilat Sulam Ya'akov:
    Golan Ben Horin, who this year will be completing his rabbinic studies at the HUC Israeli program, is serving the Sulam Ya'akov community in Zikhron Ya'akov and developing a maverick Beit Midrash program that combines innovation and expansion while remaining rooted in tradition. The programs workshops in 'Shin-gei and the Art of Jewish Prayer - Physical Workout for Developing Spiritual Ability' is just one example of this unique approach.
    For additional details:

  • New direction in Kehilat Ramot-Zion
    Kehilat Ramot-Zion of French Hill, Jerusalem, is undergoing a fascinating process of rejuvenation, lead by RIKMA Fellow Chaya Rowen-Baker, soon to be ordained by the Schechter Rabbinical School. It is now deepening its involvement in the neighborhood, running Jewish programs emphasizing ethics, spiritual growth and knowledge in nearly all the nursery schools, the TALI school and the local administration's day camps. It is attracting students and young adults from the nearby Hebrew University campus to its monthly Friday night study session and special Kabbalat–Shabbat services. Those, together with family workshops and congregant-run Hessed programs, create a place for people with different spiritual needs to come together.
    For additional details:

  • Kehilat Ra'anan
    The Reform Congregation in Ra'anana – "Kehilat Ra'anan" is led by Rabbi Tamar Kolberg. It is located in its new building "The Samueli Center" in a residential neighborhood in the south-west part of the city. The Center operates two preschool classes with a third on its way, and a rich program for Bnei Mitzvah, boys and girls – currently over 120 youngsters participate in the program with their parents. Kehilat Ra'anan is also active in the sphere of "Social Action" with various organizations such as "Alut" (Israeli Society for Autistic Children), Beit Izzy Shaprio and others.

Past Programs

  • Educational Programming in the Conservative Community in Ashkelon: 
    Hagit Sabag worked with teachers and community leaders to develop educational programs for Neve Dkalim, the TALI elementary school in the area, and in the Netzach Israel Conservative synagogue in Ashkelon. Hagit took up the challenge of creating programs that are suitable and will be meaningful for the school population, which comprises predominantly immigrants and children of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

  • Building Community in Kiryat Tivon, near Haifa:
    Rabbi Leon Weiner-Dow has been involved in a project to establish a secular community that would arrange for all essential community services and shape the community's character based on the residents' vision. The project was initiated and carried out by the Midrasha in Oranim, while Leon dealt with the spiritual/Jewish aspect of the community in order to base it on a combination of Jewish values and freedom of religion.

  • National Service and Youth Project in Kiryat Menahem, Jerusalem:
    During 2002-2004, Rabbi Mira Regev worked with the Bronfman National Service Fellows program that combines volunteering with Torah study. The fellows, together with Mira and various teachers, engaged in study aimed to place their volunteer work in a meaningful Jewish and Israeli context relevant to the real challenges of contemporary Israeli society. In the realm of gemilut hasadim and activism, the fellows ran an afternoon program in the Kiryat Menahem Community Center that offered tutoring for school children and a childcare program for single-parent families.

  • Givat Brenner High School:
    After years of successful work as a teacher of Talmud at the school, Rabbi Ahrele Fox developed a program that combines social justice with Jewish studies. In 2001, Ahrele developed an adult Beit Midrash program located on Kibbut Na'an, and in 2002, a Beit MIdrash for 11th graders at the Giv'at Brenner High School that combines Torah study with gemilut hasadim - acts of loving kindness. Between 2002-2005, Ahreleh took his students on outings that combined physical hikes with spiritual journeying that integrated study with an emphasis on the inner-searching and spirituality within the study.