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List of Mekarvim
Kiruv Center, Dallas
Rabbi Shlomo Abrams and his wife, Hudis, came to Dallas in 2005 to create a new branch of the DATA kollel. They moved to a brand new neighborhood called Brentfield.
The Abramses created an outreach center in their home together with a shul. They started their kiruv efforts by running a Sunday school and they reached out to Jewish families by knocking on doors and delivering mishloach manos. They have created programs for young families and others for teens, including The Sunday Shmooz, an alternative to Sunday school that is geared towards public school students. Each Sunday they meet at the home of a different family and have a barbeque which leads on to The Shmooz – a discussion of a variety of topics with the teens. In addition, the past two summers have brought Hudy and over 50 women on two missions to Israel.
Shlomo and Hudi are focused on creating a brand new community for young families through classes on parenting, Shalom Bayis, Shabbatons and “The Learners Experience” – a successful model for their Beginners Service, which has attracted large numbers of newcomers.
South Africa (Johannesburg) - Rabbanus
After nine years of intensive and high-level Torah study in New York and Jerusalem, Rabbi Gavriel Abramson became Senior Rabbi of Ohr Somayach in Cape Town, a flourishing community whose growth he directed for seven years. Rabbi Abramson then returned to his native Johannesburg to become Director of Ohr Somayach, the leading learning center and one of the largest and most vibrant shuls in South Africa.
Chinuch, San Diego
Rabbi Moshe Adatto is Dean of Southern California Yeshiva High School (SCY High), a boys’ high school in San Diego. Rabbi Adatto took lessons from his background in kiruv and adult education in Los Angeles and Palo Alto and applied them to high school education. The result is a school where there is a strong emphasis on building a desire for Torah and a feeling of Jewish pride in the students. This is achieved in tandem with forming a strong kesher between the students and their rebbeim and teachers. The close relationship between staff and students is one of the hallmarks of SCY High, and one element that Rabbi Adatto values tremendously.
Rabbi Adatto especially enjoys teaching Gemara with an emphasis on understanding the logical thought process and getting to know each individual student in order to help him develop into a mature person and a Ben Torah.
In addition to the time he has committed to the school, Rabbi Adatto is also involved in his local shul, Beth Jacob Congregation, where he gives a weekly Gemara shiur and vaad for baalei batim.
Young Professionals, Baltimore
In 2008, Rabbi Bergman and his family moved to Baltimore where he founded WOW! – a program for young professionals.
The idea was to leverage the frum community’s young professionals as chevrusas and mentors for secular young professionals. They ran the first WOW! learning program – a 5 week program of 1.5 hours a week at the African American Museum, downtown Baltimore with 56 young professionals, – 28 secular and 28 frum.
To date they have run over 20 programs and more than 450 different people have participated in at least one program.
In July of 2012 Rabbi Bergman became the Executive Director of Etz Chaim of Baltimore. They have 10 staff members that operate 7 divisions focused on college students, young professionals (WOW! was merged into Etz Chaim), young families, Partners in Torah, Israel Scholars, Jewish U academics and Senior Jewish Learning.
Community Kollel -> Rabbanus | Portland
Rabbi Yekusiel Brodkin started his kiruv activities in 2003 in the outreach kollel in Houston Texas, where he was involved in outreach with adults through teaching and through small, group-learning sessions.
In 2005 he became rabbi of the Kesser Yisrael congregation in Portland, Oregon. Since his arrival, Rabbi Brodkin has instituted three regular minyanim daily, and the community now also has an eiruv. His work has resulted in the strengthening of Jewish life in Portland, with a significant number of families becoming shomer shabbos and others sending their children off to yeshiva.
Rabbi Brodkin and his wife founded Maayan Torah Day School with the long-term goal of establishing a day school that offers local Jewish families cutting-edge education with excellence in both Torah and secular studies.
Campus Kiruv, Pittsburgh
Over the past 3 years, Rabbi Seth and Lisa Cook have turned Aish IU into the destination on campus for Indiana University’s Jewish student population. Averaging 100+ participants for Shabbat meals each week, and spearheading a host of other programs including classes, 1-on-1 learning, cooking workshops and Israel trips, Rabbi Seth and Lisa are now running one of the most successful campus kiruv programs in the field, exemplifying both cutting edge outreach programming and a sought-after model that is now being emulated across North America and in the international arena.
Originally from Marion, Ohio, Rabbi Seth spent 7 years learning at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem before returning with his family to Indiana University, his Alma Mater, to build up Aish on Campus. With his magnetic personality, warmth and finely tuned teaching and relationship-building skills, Seth is highly-respected and liked by students and colleagues alike. Lisa, a native of Melbourne, Australia, is known for her teaching and gourmet cooking skills, as well as for her tireless work and absolute dedication to Aish IU and to the Jewish people at large. During summers in Israel, Rabbi Seth and Lisa are frequently called upon by various organizations to speak about their success and experience on campus, helping shape and build future leaders of Klal Yisroel.
Community Outreach Center, St. Louis
Rabbi Yosef Aharon David started his career as an avreich in the Cincinnati community kollel where he was the part-time rabbi of the downtown synagogue and outreach center. He also helped found the JSU outreach program on the university of Cincinnati college campus.
After 2 years in Cincinnati, and looking to help build a young vibrant community, he joined the new Memphis Community Kollel as the outreach director. When the Rosh Kollel left Memphis after a year and no successor was found, Rabbi David stepped into the breach as the executive director and directed the outreach activities administration and fundraising of the kollel for 5 years.
He went on to Aish HaTorah in St. Louis, and took over their suburban program, the “Firehouse” which he has turned into vibrant outreach center for education and inspiration. Classes, adult and children’s Hebrew school, Israel trips, lecture series with guest speakers and Shabbos-and weekend retreats are some of the programs that Aish St Louis provides. Currently, he is the executive director of Aish HaTorah of St. Louis.
In this capacity he directs the programing, manages the staff of 3 full time and 3 part time employees and additional part time teachers, and he is also the main fundraiser.
As an outreach rabbi he teaches classes and runs an open house with his wife Mimi for many shabbos and holiday experiences. He runs programs and is the public face of the organization to the community. He runs trips to Israel for married men and his wife runs trips to Israel for married women.
Community Kollel -> Rabbanus | Los Angeles
Rabbi Dovid Edelstein went from Ner LeElef to the newly founded kollel in The Valley, in Los Angeles. When the kollel closed, he taught for a year at Valley Torah Academy (boys mesivta), and then went into the profession of accounting on a full-time basis. It was during his time as an accountant that he started learning programs in one of the local shuls in The Valley. Those evening programs became very successful, and after a few years, when the shul went through some major changes, many of those students left to form a new shul, Bais Tefila. For over a year, they beseeched Rabbi Edelstein to join them as their Rav, when he finally gave in and took the rabbanus of Bais Tefila. The shul soon became a center of Torah learning, with daily, Shabbos and Yom Tov minyanim, and has grown to the point of needing to build a new, larger facility.
Campus Kiruv, Detroit
Rabbi Fully Eisenberger is the director of the Jewish Resource Center fondly known by students and the Detroit community as the JRC. It is located in Ann Arbor Michigan, a 45-minute drive from the frum community where Rabbi Fully lives with his wife and five children kn’h.
Programs at the JRC include one-on-one learning sessions daily with 5 full time staff members, lunch-and-learns, as well as small and large-group learning. The Maimonides program is run twice a year for 35-40 students and includes local and international lecturers. Students participate in two community based shabbatons, as well as in a big graduation event. When school is in session, JRC staff members take turns going to the JRC for Shabbos with their families. When they spend Shabbos at the JRC, they host about 120 students Friday night and 50 on Shabbos day. In addition to Shabbos on campus many students enjoy coming to Rabbi Fully’s home almost weekly.
The JRC runs two Israel trips a year. A birthright trip for beginners as well as a level two trip for more advanced students. Each trip hosts 30-35 students. Additionally they run a trip to Poland each winter bringing about 14 students.
Rabbi Fully has been able to find creative new ways to fundraise to cover the growing costs of the JRC.
The JRC holds a community wide Maimonides graduation event once a year. This event hosts 250 guests for a beautiful strolling dinner and address by the students. He has started a monthly donation by student alumni who are now in the corporate world and are in the position to ‘pay it forward” for new students. This program currently includes 15 students and it is growing. Shabbos sponsorships by current student families have also been a successful fundraising technique.
Rabbi Fully travels to New York, Chicago, Florida, California, and even South Carolina to be in contact with students who have graduated from the University of Michigan. The Eisenbergers are proud to go to weddings, brissim and more simchas of over 25 amazing couples who have learned in the JRC and are now living Torah lives.
Many times over, the JRC has been referred to by students as their home away from home. It exudes deep warmth where everyone feels like family no matter what Jewish background they come from. This feeling sets the tone for amazing Torah learning and growth in Yiddishkeit.
Community Kollel, Palo Alto
Rabbi Joey Felsen is the Founder and Executive Director of the Jewish Study Network of Northern California, commonly known as The JSN, based in Palo Alto. The JSN is a two-seder kollel with a mission of creating and maintaining an institution of high level Torah scholarship, and of going out into the Jewish Communities in the area in order to raise the level of Jewish literacy in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Recognizing that Jewish education is critical to creating and maintaining a vibrant future for Jews in America, the JSN engages Jews living in communities within the 75 mile stretch between San Francisco and Santa Cruz (which includes the Palo Alto/San Jose Region), with a host of learning opportunities. This is all in addition to maintaining two sedarim of learning a day.
Rabbi Felsen has been the inspiration and mastermind of all this. For his work at Kehillah Jewish High School (the community Jewish high school in Palo Alto), he received the 2006 Grinspoon-Steinhardt National Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, which recognizes, honors and supports outstanding classroom Jewish educators. Rabbi and Mrs. Felsen also founded Meira Academy, now in its fourth year. He is a past Member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.