Hear The Latest at Barkai

barkai graduation 2018In June, the 3rd cohort of Barkai rabbis graduated the training program. The festive evening began with a reception and a buffet and the program included an address by Barkai President, Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and an interview with Naftali Bennett. The program also included the awarding of the Barkai Prize in three categories. The evening ended with the presentation of diplomas to the rabbinic graduates. Please click here to see a short video about the evening.

barkai class 2018Prior to Rosh Hashana, 24 new rabbis from all over the country met at an opening meeting in Modi'in for the fourth cohort of the Barkai Center. During the meeting, the rabbis heard shiurim by Rabbi Yaakov Ariel and Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon and by Rabbi David Fine and Rabbi Shlomo Sobol, heads of the Barkai Center and Roniel Elkayam, CEO. With the new class there are 78 rabbis who have passed or are undergoing the training.

barkai tikkun olamPlease click to see video showing Barkai’s efforts in suicide prevention, women’s and chlldren’s safety and integrating people with special needs into the community.

barkai sukkah Once again, the Barkai Center has launched its Build A Sukkah initiative. The initiative sends a team of teen volunteers to people all over Israel who are unable to build their own Sukkot- older people, shut ins, people with disabilities, etc. With the assistance of hundreds of volunteers, Barkai uses its network of 78 rabbis and communities to reach those who are in need. This year over 200 sukkot have already been built. Click here to view video.

barkai suicide prevention Once again, the Barkai Center participated in events surrounding International Suicide Prevention day on September 10th. Representatives from Barkai particpated in the annual Suicide awarness march in Tel Aviv. Additionally, Rabbi Fine was interviewed on Israeli radio in Hebrew and authored an op-ed article that was published in the print edition of the Jerusalem Post and is available here.

barkai rabbi shachar

Rabbi Shachar, please tell us a little about yourself:

I am 37 years old. I am married to Renana and we have 5 children: Simchi (9), Oriah and Shalem (7), Shilat (3) and Emuna (1). I am the rabbi of Congregation Meir Modiin, in Modiin and I also teach at the Hesder Yeshiva in Modiin.

Why did you decide to become a community rabbi?

The community rabbinate is a very big challenge.  Becoming a community rabbi is not a decision to be taken lightly.  When the community asked me to become their rabbi I had many dilemmas about whether to agree or refuse.  What was ultimately decisive was the desire to serve the other, the one in need, the strengthening of the Torah, Halacha and the fear of heaven in our midst.

Why did you decide to become a community specifically in Modiin?

While this is the case regarding any rabbinic position in Israel or anywhere in the world it is even more true about Modiin. Modiin is mostly comprised of a population that is middle and upper class and it therefore seems that less money is needed to be invested in thease areas.  So, we developed Torah communities and Garinei Torah for development cities and the periphery.  It has only been in the last few years that we have begun to understand that it is precisely in the big cities where there is a very strong need in strengthening Torah in the midst of all shades of populations and in strengthening the place of Halacha.  Modiin is a wonderful city with  terrific people who really enjoy hearing Torah lessons at a very high level and with spiritual depth.

Why was it important to you to participate in Barkai?

Certainly, beyond the Halachic and Torah matters, a community rabbi requires skills in order to deal with various situations that arise in the communities, solutions to which are not necessarily found in the books of Halacha. Dealing with community safety, addictions, mental illnesses and marriage counseling in a professional and kind manner is only the tip of the iceberg of what a community rabbi deals with routinely.

Did you benefit from Barkai? If so, how?

We learned about all of these topics and more during the intensive and fascinating training of Barkai. These are tools that are priceless: public speaking, familiarity with complicated psychological issues, mediation skills and even the ability to identify complex problems. All of this and more I learned at Barkai and I use these tools quite regularly in my congregation.

What is your vision for your rabbinate?

The rabbinate in my world is very inclusive. It is not only about the halachic realm or giving classes, but rather, first and foremost, leading a community, bringing a community closer to God and to holiness, helping every person in need, loving and being attentive to each individual, spearheading Torah activities for adults and for youth, helping community members deal with different kinds challenges and to demonstrate how all of these tools emanate from the Torah and are an integral part of it.

What is the main message you will convey to your congregation over the coming high holidays?

The message that I wish to convey is the love of the other. The importance of loving our neighbor, of loving every person, is very large and serves as the basis of the entire Torah. The sins that are committed against our neighbors are not atoned for on Yom Kippur until  they are appeased. This is the message that I wish to convey to my community and to all of Israel.

barkai ad 2018 1 s

In honor of the High Holidays the Barkai Center initiated a national campaign to raise awareness about the need for a community rabbi.
Here are the ads that were used in the campaign:
Ad #1
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barkai conference

The Barkai Center organized a conference for hundreds of university students at Ono College on the topic of community and the rabbinate. The conference was titled "The Rabbi, The Congregation and what is Between Them". The conference included a panel and TED style talks. The following speakers participated in the conference: the heads of the Barkai Center, Rabbis David Fine and Shlomo Sobol, Ronel Elkayam, Barkai's Executive Director, Rabbanit Shani Marzebach of the Barkai communities, the Chief Rabbi of the Police, the Chief Rabbi of the Prison Services and Rabbi Yuval Cherlow. The conference was moderated by the columnist, Yair Sherki. The goal of the conference was to encourage the younger generation as to the importance of community and community rabbis.


Today, the topic of a safe community is a very burning issue. Unfortunately, almost every day we hear about very difficult cases of sexual harassment, abuse, and rape of girls and boys, women and men.

The Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics and Community Development, that has trained close to 60 rabbis across the State of Israel believes that the community rabbi has an important part in leading the community on this matter.

Therefore, we just concluded at the Barkai Center a course for rabbis that trains them to be certified monitors against sexual harassment.

According to the law against sexual harassment in Israel, it is the legal responsibility of every educational institution, organization and place of employment to train a monitor that is responsible for the prevention of and dealing with cases of sexual harassment and abuse.

The training was provided by Tahel. Tahel was established in 1993 in order to provide emotional support, advice and referrals for women, teenagers and children during times of crisis. Over the years the Center has developed programs to help women and children deal with the trauma of war and terror in addition to helping victims of abuse.

The course delved into the legal, social, ethical and psychological aspects and gave the rabbis practical tools for prevention as well as dealing with complicated situations. The course was given by experts in the field.

Debbie Gross, the Founder and Director of Tahel said: "We, at Tahel, were proud to partner with the Barkai Center in this very important project to train rabbis to be monitors against sexual harassment in the community and the workplace. We encourage all communities and organizations to follow in the footsteps of this important and groundbreaking initiative."

Rabbi David Fine, the Founder and Dean of Barkai said: "We are attempting to make the community rabbi more relevant in the life of his community/ Therefore it was important for us to give the rabbis the requisite skills to lead his community during the complex times in which we live."


The Barkai Center continues to put an emphasis on the training of the rabbis' wives. The wives are also involved in the communities and serve as important figures for the women of the community. Each month the women of the Barkai Center meet for a fascinating session regarding important topics. Most recently, the women met with Rabbanit Nechama Ariel, the wife of Rabbi Yaakov Ariel. They also met with Avital Baram from the organization Hitkashroot and discussed the topic of couples that come from different ideological backgrounds,. They also had several sessions with speakers from the Joint about mental health. One of the wives recently commented "I am so happy that the Barkai Center sees such importance in the role of the Rabbanit. Women in my community approach me for advice in all kinds of subjects and I get so many tools from these sessions that help me so much."

Making Israel Better

The Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics aims to improve the fabric of Israeli society by intensively training Israeli rabbis in all aspects of communal rabbinics so that they can lead their communities to a more meaningful connection with Judaism and act as a unifying force in Israeli society.


For updates about Barkai news and events, we invite you to subscribe to our Barkai Bulletin.

Contact Us

P.O. Box 1652, Modiin 71799 Israel