“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” (Henry A. Kissinger)
Because Jewish education was illegal until 1990, most rabbis in the former Soviet Union are foreign-born. However, to answer the needs of evolving communities, leadership roles require a more intricate knowledge of a shared history and a deeper understanding of a community’s past dynamics. Thus, the need to train rabbis steeped in their communities’ collective heritage has become acute.
The FJC’s rabbinical seminaries were founded in Moscow in 2001 to train as many locally-born rabbis as possible. The objective is to create a new generation of community leaders that will serve their communities in a rapidly developing social climate, where people rely more on local services and less on the State. These men must be more than a gateway to Jewish religion and culture; they are responsible for the spiritual revival of Jewish life itself. Besides serving as religious leaders, their communities depend on them for humanitarian aid, social integration and moral direction.
The Federation’s Rabbinical seminary, which is under the auspices of the Rabbinical Alliance, has already ordained and placed locally-born rabbis in the republics of Armenia and Kyrgistan, as well as in the Russian cities of Volgograd, Bryansk, Astrakhan, Kostroma, and Krasnoyarsk, and also in Irkutsk, Siberia and Khabarovsk – on the Russian border with Japan.