More than 400 prominent rabbis, Jewish leaders, friends, and supporters of Ohr Torah Stone (OTS) gathered in New York City recently to celebrate the lifetime impact and achievements of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin by completing, dedicating, and dancing with a sefer Torah that was written in his honor. The event celebrated Rabbi Riskin’s rabbinate in the United States and Israel and the global impact he’s had over more than 50 years, delivering a message that is as important as it ever was, of love for all people and inclusion for all Jews within the framework of Torah and halachah.
Today, Ohr Torah Stone’s 27 institutions champion an education that is spiritually enthused and religiously relevant, preparing their students to be religious leaders, public intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and industry titans in all facets of society.
The event took place at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. The Torah will be brought to Israel, where, following additional celebrations in Efrat and Jerusalem, it will go to its permanent home at Ohr Torah Stone’s Midreshet Lindenbaum.
“Rabbi Riskin’s contributions to Israel and world Jewry over the course of the past five decades have been instrumental in shaping today’s Jewish community. His message of inclusion and caring for all Jews and all people is as relevant today as it was in the 1970s when he stimulated the growth of the ba’al teshuvah movement in the United States,” said president and rosh ha’yeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander. “We are building upon the foundation that he has prepared for us.”
For more than half a century, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin has been one of the Jewish people’s most articulate and beloved spokespeople for a Judaism of warmth and inclusion, vibrancy and renewal. This is reflected in his Torah teachings, his enormous influence on the global Jewish outreach movement, his founding leadership of Manhattan’s famed Lincoln Square Synagogue, his historic activism on behalf of Soviet Jewry, his decades of religious and legal battling on behalf of agunot, his visionary leadership as the founding chief rabbi of Efrat, and his herculean role as the founder and chief architect of the international Ohr Torah Stone network. His entire life has been dedicated to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. For those who know and love him, Rabbi Riskin is best described as a living sefer Torah — which is why OTS chose to celebrate him through a sefer Torah dedication.
“I am extremely humbled and moved that students, friends, and supporters of Ohr Torah Stone have partnered in this wonderful gift of a sefer Torah in my honor. I have always viewed my positions of rabbi and rosh yeshiva as a privilege, as well as a responsibility, to impart our sacred Torah to the next generation. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening to the Torah that I have taught over the years, and for working together to give overlooked or marginalized populations a chance to learn and teach their Torah as well, thus enriching us all and bringing the entire Jewish nation closer to G-d,” said Rabbi Riskin.
Rabbi Riskin and his wife, Vicky, made aliyah together in 1983. He became the founding rabbi of the city of Efrat and at the same time founded Ohr Torah Stone, which has flourished into a Modern Orthodox network of 27 institutions which are transforming Jewish life, learning, and leadership worldwide. The network champions academic excellence and creative scholarship infused with intellectual openness and a deep sensitivity to contemporary concerns. It is creating the next generation of Modern Orthodox leaders and training them on how to deal with cutting-edge issues that impact the global Jewish community. For more information, visit OTS.org.il.