Dear All Members of our World Mizrachi Family
Please find bellow a letter signed by the members of our World Mizrachi Board in Israel and around the world in full support of Rav Riskin to continue in his role as the Chief Rabbi of Efrat. The letter is self-explanatory and was sent to the Chief Rabbis of Israel on behalf of the Leadership of World Mizrachi.
Rav Doron Perez Director-General, World Mizrachi
We as the Board of the World Mizrachi Movement, and in conjunction with our affiliates – World Bnei Akiva and Torah Mitzion – express our unreserved support for Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s continued tenure as the Chief Rabbi of the Town of Efrat.
We were taken aback that certain members of the Rabbinic Council of the Chief Rabbinate would consider not continuing Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s tenure. Our amazement at this consideration, of something that should have been a formality alone, stems from the following remarkable facts of Rabbi Riskin’s contribution to עם ישראל – the People of Israel, ארץ ישראל – the Land of Israel, and תורת ישראל – the Torah of Israel in general and to the town of Efrat specifically .
Firstly, it is difficult to find another Rabbi in Israel who has done more to build his town and city than Rabbi Riskin and what he has done for the town of Efrat. When Rabbi Riskin moved to Israel and Efrat in the early 1980’s, the town was a fledgling village. For over 30 years Rabbi Riskin has dedicated himself among so many other things to the building of this town which is today the largest town in Gush Etzion, numbering nearly 10,000 people. The town today is bustling not only with thousands of residents but with dozens of kindergartens, schools, Yeshivot and Midrashot. Rabbi Riskin has also initiated and made great efforts to have the best possible relationships with the neighboring Arab villages.
What is additionally remarkable about this achievement is that, as we all know, Rabbi Riskin left one of the most prestigious rabbinic positions in the United States at the height of his career in order to come to Israel. He left behind the Lincoln Square Synagogue which he had built over almost two decades into a powerhouse of a community and spiritual center in Manhattan, which was well known throughout the United States, and indeed the world. The path was open for him to climb even further to become one of the great rabbinic leaders of the United States of America. He left all this behind to come to a quiet barren hill in the Gush Etzion area. How many leaders in general, and rabbinic leaders in particular, have shown this level of Mesirut Nefesh and love for Eretz Yisrael?
Rabbi Riskin has also built tens of institutions as the Chancellor of Ohr Torah Stone Institutions which serve so many facets of Israeli society and diaspora communities. He has built schools and shuls, yeshivot and seminaries for men and women, preparing them to play proactive roles in Israeli society – in education, in the army and beyond. Machon Amiel-Strauss has, for close to two decades, been preparing rabbis and educators to serve diaspora communities. Rabbi Riskin has also been particularly proactive in the realms of spiritually empowering women, conversion and with great sensitivity defending women in particularly challenging areas such as Agunot and those whose husbands refuse to give them a Get.
Of course the richness of many different Torah views in general and also within the Religious Zionist world means that there may be differing views on certain specific Halachic matters. At the same time, how can this for a moment cloud the enormous multifaceted achievements of Rav Riskin in so many fields and create any doubt as to him continuing to lead the town that he has done so much for?
In one rabbinic personality we have so many far-reaching achievements of everything Mizrachi stands for:
A love of the עם ישראל , the Jewish People: his contribution on behalf of men and women, the powerful and the powerless, born Jews and converts, all ages from the young to the old, with a focus both in Israel and the diaspora. Rav Riskin’s love of people, of course, is not restricted to the Jewish People, but his is a Torah of deep universalism and humanity reaching out to the non-Jewish world both in Israel and around the world.
A love of ארץ ישראל and מדינת ישראל, giving up so much to move to the land, becoming the spiritual leader and one of the drivers of building a city in Israel and התיישבות – settling in the Gush Etzion area with all its historic significance.
A love of תורת ישראל – the dozens of Torah institutions spanning all ages and backgrounds, serving both Israel and the diaspora, and the courage to deal with many issues at the heart of Israeli and world Jewry.
If ever there was a rabbi who deserved an extended tenure in a town and city – it would be Rabbi Riskin.
We urge the Chief Rabbinate to end its deliberations and enable Rabbi Riskin to continue as the Chief Rabbi of Efrat with the incredible work that he is doing for Klal Yisrael in general and Efrat particularly.
We wish Rav Riskin good health and blessings to continue to lead in his unique way עד מאה ועשרים and beyond.
Members of the World Mizrachi Board
Roi Abecassis – Israel
Harvey Blitz – USA
Steven Blumgart – England
Dan Bismuth – Israel
Avraham Duvdevani – Israel
Jack Kahn – Canada
Avrom Krengel – South Africa
Jeremy Kurnedz – Israel
Dr. Danny Lamm – Australia
Rav Doron Perez – Israel
Kurt Rothschild – Israel
Solly Sacks – Israel
Zeev Schwartz – Israel
Sondra Sokal – USA
Avi Suliman – Israel
Rav Yechiel Wasserman – Israel