Some 30 young rabbis from all across the continent participated in the Young European Rabbis’ Forum, a two-day seminar organized by the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE).
The forum covered topics such as chinuch, marriage, counseling and fundraising. Among the speakers were: Rabbi Menachem Mendel Gluckowsky, rabbi of the Chabad community in Rechovot; the well-known chareidi psychotherapist Rabbi Netai Melamed; and Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, Deputy Director of the RCE
The Young Rabbis’ Forum met early last week in Bucharest, Romania. This Forum, the second of its kind, hosted some thirty young rabbis from many European countries for two days filled with shiurim, workshops and discussions on chinuch, marriage, counseling and fund-raising, led by popular speakers, all experts in their fields. The participants hailed from Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Malta, England, Holland, Turkey, Latvia, Russia, Belarus, Serbia, Hungary and Romania. The Forum was held in Bucharest’s Central Synagogue, “Yeshuah Tovah – Tiferes Dov.”
Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, Deputy Director of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe and one of the Forum’s main planners, opened the Forum. Rabbi Goldberg welcomed the participants, thanking them for their willingness to leave their communities and families for several days in order to broaden their knowledge, to share ideas and to consult with both colleagues and experts in relevant fields. Rabbi Goldberg stressed the importance of this Forum – both as a vital break from the routine, giving rabbis an opportunity to take stock of their personal situations and to evaluate their progress; and to afford rabbis the opportunity to learn and to continue to expand their knowledge once they return to their communities and families.
The first speaker was Rabbi Menachem Mendel Gluckowsky, rabbi of Rechovot’s Chabad community and secretary of the beis din of Chabad rabbis in Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Gluckowsky’s fascinating lecture focused on a most relevant topic for rabbis who serve in outlying communities: How to deal with chinuch issues that arise among children of various ages as a direct result of their parents’ serving in foreign countries. During the course of the two-day Forum Rabbi Gluckowsky spoke twice more, discussing other intriguing topics: the problem of rabbis serving as marriage counselors without recourse to an authority for guidance; and the need for rabbis to be professional in their many and varied activities.
During the two days of the Forum, Rabbi Netai Melamed, the well-known chareidi psychotherapist who is very involved in many areas of educational counseling, captivated the participants with a series of lectures and workshops. The first one dealt with ways the rabbi can deepen his connection with the members of his community so that they turn to him not only for halachic matters but also when personal counseling is needed. Among other topics, Rabbi Melamed’s various lectures addressed how to identify conflicts, resolutions for them, and effective negotiating skills.
Another lecturer who enlightened the participants on a somewhat different but altogether relevant topic was Mr.Yitzchak Lev, former administrator of the Keren Hayesod in Europe. Lev gave a number of lectures addressing the challenge with which every rabbi must contend on a daily basis: recruiting funds. Among other topics, Lev discussed how a rabbi can “market” himself in fund-raising situations, as well as how to present new projects to existing donors.
On the last evening, before the Forum drew to a close, the rabbis were treated to a dinner, sponsored by the Jewish community of Bucharest, at Bucharest’s Minerva Hotel. In attendance were the local community leaders, as well as the director of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, Rabbi Menachem Margolin. Also in attendance were Rabbi Naftali Deutch, Chabad shaliach for Romania and host of the Forum; Mr. Albert Aflalo, director of the “Building the Future” fund that sponsored the Forum; and Mr. Dan Ben Eliezer, Israel’s Ambassador to Romania. The whirlwind activity of the Forum ended with a symposium led by Rabbi Avraham Abba Turetsky, of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe.