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Founded in 1998, the Straus-Amiel Institute seeks to meet Jewish communities’ needs across the world by training the communal rabbinic and educational leadership. These leaders’ goals are to maintain and enhance a Jewish life firmly rooted in the world of halacha, while seeking to meet the needs and goals of the community and the individual with professionalism and sensitivity.
Beyond the two-year training program undertaken by the future Jewish communal professionals, the staff is at the service of the shlichim on any question or matter – halachik, communal, educational, logistical, familial and personal. Indeed, contact with the institute does not end with the signing of the contract, but continues throughout the shlichut. The institute is an address for any question or dilemma and guidance is provided to the emissaries over the phone, through e-mails, visits of the Amiel staff to the communities, visits of the shlichim in Israel, the dedicated private Facebook page and in-service training provided during regional conventions. The undoubted highlight of the continued contact are the conferences and in-service training provided by the Straus Amiel Institute. these conferences bring together the staff, emissaries and expert speakers to discuss the issues of the day, strengthen the bond between staff and graduates as well as among the emissaries themselves who will have studied at different times, but are all bound together by the nature of their work and their shared history as students of the Straus Amiel Institute.
Founding Director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Straus-Amiel program, Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum’s vast experience makes him an excellent role model and source of inspiration to both our students and our alumni in the field. His position as the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and community rabbi in Turin, Italy, is complemented by his extensive professional work in Israel. In addition to training educational and spiritual leadership, he serves as a Judge on the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's Conversion Courts and writes prolifically on the challenges facing Jewish communities and communal leaders. As a result, Rabbi Birnbaum is considered an authority on matters of the Diaspora and he is consulted regularly by Israeli officials and Diaspora leaders alike for advice and information regarding conflicts, halachic questions and challenges that arise across the globe.