Over the years Rabbi Steinsaltz has founded multiple educational institutions which, to this day, are guided by his unique worldview and his insistence that knowledge, and its pursuit, is our collective responsibility. A significant portion of Shefa’s annual budget is allocated to support of these institutions:
• The Tekoa Yeshiva: Founded in 1999 and headed by Rabbi Chaim Kafri, the Tekoa Yeshiva has 140 students and offers classes in Halacha, Midrash, Hassidism , Rabbi Kook’s writings, the philosophy of the Zohar, as well as literature and creative writing . Founded primarily as a Hesder Yeshiva to enable religious youth to continue their religious studies while serving in the Israel Defense Forces, today, the yeshiva also offers programs in Halacha and advanced teacher training. Yeshiva community initiatives include:
• Oto Ha-Kfar: Building bridges between religious and secular youth
• Big Brother: Yeshiva students adopt elementary school kids offering help and guidance in school studies and beyond
• Masa: the Yeshiva cooperates with the Masa program which encourages Diaspora Jewish youth to come to Israel on a
variety of volunteer and study programs
• Yeshiva Beis Shefa: Housed as part of the Tekoa Yeshiva, Beis Shefa is a unique program for English speaking Lubavitch youth. Founded as an alternative to the established Chabad Yeshiva, Beis Shefa emphasizes a rigorous study program while treating each students as an individual, encouraging him to challenge himself and those around him.
• Mekor Chaim Junior High and High Schools: A unique education that combines academic excellence with the living spirit of Chassidism. The curriculum includes Torah studies, in-depth and extensive Talmud study, high-level general studies, enrichment studies and extra-curricular activities such as scribing, painting, electronics, carpentry, music, computers, first aid, navigation, scouting and more. The Makor Chaim curriculum is designed to enable teachers to devote quality time to students both as individuals and in small groups.
The Institute for Jewish Studies, Former Soviet Union
The Institute for Jewish Studies in the CIS is a multi-faceted Jewish education initiative designed for the several million Jews still living in the former Soviet Union (FSU). The Institute is under the direction of Rabbi Steinsaltz, who was officially recognized in 1995 for his efforts on behalf of Jewish revival in the FSU with the title Duchovny Ravin, or spiritual mentor. Today, the Institute is one of the largest Jewish educational agencies in the FSU, providing seminars, lectures and educational materials to professionals, lay leaders, activists, and Russian-speaking Jews all over the world.
Rabbi Steinsaltz established The Institute for Jewish Studies in the CIS to transmit Jewish identity and passion to a people who had been forced into assimilation and who may have otherwise never had the chance to explore their Judaism. The Institute works with Jewish individuals and groups of all beliefs and backgrounds to help them reclaim their heritage, rebuild their communities, and rejoice in the splendor of Jewish life.
The latest initiative of the Rabbi's Institute is the Melamedia International Informal Jewish Education Center, whose goal is to reach and teach 300,000 individuals within the next five years. By training the trainers, investing in new media and devising new ways to deliver the message, Melamedia focuses on preparing community activists, opinion leaders and teachers for self-sufficiency. Melamedia, which works under the auspices of the Institute, hopes to create an educational infrastructure that can withstand the vicissitudes of the Russian political landscape. To learn more about Melamedia, click here.
Based in the Moscow Center, the Institute provides a wide range of programming and services, including:
- Bayit LeMidrash ("a home for study") - peer-led community learning circles
- Limudim ("studies") - facilitation of distance learning
- Lamed ("teach") - Jewish teacher training
- Bring Shabbat Home - infusing the meaning of Shabbat into homes across the FSU
- Publications - Russian-language books and magazines
www.Judaicaru.org - the largest Russian-language Jewish resource website
Because there is so much work to be done in reaching out to the Jews of the FSU, the Institute has initiated cooperative efforts with other organizations. Our partners include:
Hillel: Learning opportunities, leadership training, and cultural programming for University-aged students
Joint Distribution Committee: Fostering Jewish renewal and communal life and caring for the impoverished elderly
Jewish Agency: Focusing on Zionist education and encouragement of immigration to Israel (aliyah)
Project Kesher: Applying Jewish values to the renewal of Jewish life, facilitating the creation of women's networks, and empowering women across the FSU
Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS: Restoring Jewish life, culture, and religion in the FSU through professional assistance, educational support and funding to member communities
When asked about his work in the FSU, Rabbi Steinsaltz explains that it is important - urgently important - for its own sake and not only for its own sake. What will happen in Russia in ten years time - possibly the disappearance of much of Jewry as we know it - will happen in Europe in twenty years time. And it will happen in the United States in forty years time. Rabbi Steinsaltz's work today with the Jews of the FSU, vital and meaningful in itself, is the template for what will need to be done in Europe tomorrow and in the United States, the day after that.