AJWS Hosts Global Justice Conference For Rabbis and Rabbinical Students

Inter-denominational Jewish Communal Leaders Will Gather to Share Ideas and Deepen Commitment to Human Rights

New York, NY; February 10, 2011—More than 40 rabbis and rabbinical students, from across the denominational spectrum, will participate in a global justice leadership retreat in Reisterstown, Maryland from February 20 to 23. In its second year, the conference, called the Rabbinical Students Delegation Alumni Institute (RSD Alumni Institute), will focus on leveraging participants’ power to elevate global justice as a core expression of Jewish tradition, both locally and in the larger North American Jewish community.

All RSD Alumni Institute participants have traveled with American Jewish World Service (AJWS), which sends two multi-denominational groups of rabbinical students and graduate students pursuing careers in Jewish communal leadership and one group of early-career rabbis to the developing world each year. During these delegations, participants live and work alongside AJWS’s grassroots partners for 10 to 14 days. While in the field, participants grapple with Jewish texts and theology in order to make sense of the struggles for social justice and human rights. Upon return, they work together, as part of the Rabbinical Students Delegation Alumni Network (RSD Alumni Network), to bring a sophisticated understanding of global citizenship to their communities.

The RSD Alumni Network consists of more than 230 students, rabbis, educators and Jewish communal professionals working in synagogues, day schools, Hillels, Jewish social justice organizations, camps and seminaries. The Institute serves as the cornerstone of the RSD Alumni Network and is designed to provide a forum for developing strategies, deepening knowledge and building a cohesive leadership body. AJWS believes that through efforts like the RSD Alumni Institute, rabbinical students and early-career rabbis will be increasingly well-equipped to lead a robust Jewish effort at advancing human rights and social justice around the world.

“AJWS seeks to rally the rabbinate, across all denominations, around forming a vibrant Jewish identity that prioritizes social justice and human rights for all people,” said Aaron Dorfman, AJWS’s vice president of programming. “Our growing network of inspiring Jewish leaders is working diligently to make this vision a reality for 21st Century Jews.”

This year’s RSD Alumni Institute will feature several prominent Jewish educators and mentors. Dr. Erica Brown, a writer, educator, consultant and scholar-in-residence for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, will lead an interactive text study on tikkun olam, a session on board effectiveness and a training on tactics for framing difficult conversations; Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B’nai-Judea David in Los Angeles will speak about the challenges and best practices for discussing politics from the pulpit; Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg, director of outreach and community development at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, will lead and teach several meditation sessions to help participants explore compassion and the ways it infuses their work as activists and leaders; and Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, executive director of AJWS grantee Rozaria Memorial Trust in Zimbabwe, will share her experiences working with people living with HIV/AIDS. Participants will also hear from and engage with a panel of interfaith leaders working on social justice issues in the Baltimore area.

For more information about the Institute and other programs for Jewish communal leaders, please visit www.ajws.org/rsd.

For More Information

If you are a member of the press and wish to obtain information about our work or speak to a member of our global team on deadline, please contact Tanyanika Davis, Director of Media Relations, at tdavis@ajws.org.