Close to 200 of the UK’s best Rabbis, Rebbetzens and informal educators gathered together on the 8-9th January at South Hampstead Synagogue in London for the 7th annual Aleinu Outreach Conference. The conference, an annual highlight for educators is a joint project of Jewish Futures, Aish, Seed, the Jewish Learning Exchange (JLE) and the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue (RCUS), and offers a unique opportunity to bring together the wide spectrum of educational outreach organisations in the UK to work in partnership towards ensuring Jewish futures. Aleinu’s two-day programme covered a wide range of educational issues, with a particular focus on pushing the boundaries of education whilst also guarding the boundaries of the Torah.
Prior to Aleinu, there was no occasion for all the individual Jewish educational organisations to join together, but for the last 7 years, the Aleinu steering committee has been working in partnership to create a cohesive forum for educators and organisations in the UK. The unique annual Aleinu conference, born out the need for a united communal approach to education, now brings all the individual outreach organisations and educators together once a year to work in partnership towards ensuring Jewish futures.
Aleinu was delighted and privileged to welcome Rabbi YY Jacobson as their keynote speaker, a world-renowned speaker from America, who educates and inspires diverse groups of people in Torah and Judaism globally. Rabbi YY Jacobson gave the first session on pushing the boundaries, as well as delivering numerous inspirational sessions throughout the conference.
Aleinu also welcomed Rav Yisrael Meir Greenberg, Rav of Golders Green Beis Hamedresh and member of the rabbinical committee of the Orthodox Union of Hebrew Congregations. Rav Greenberg gave the second keynote session on the topic of where the boundaries are. Other speakers include Rabbi Daniel Rowe from Aish UK, Rabbi Benjy Morgan from the JLE, Rabbi Dov Birnbaum from SEED and Rabbi Dr Effie Kleinberg from the Forum for Jewish Leadership.
Professional development breakout sessions were given throughout the programme, including a session on content development and making great short videos, given by Ollie Anisfeld. Another session featured a panel discussion on mental health with Rabbi Daniel Epstein from Southgate United Synagogue and Rebbetzin Naomi Lerer from Noa. Other sessions included Creativity in education led by Rabbis Dov Birnbaum, Eli Levin, Benjy Morgan and Daniel Rowe, and another on Mindfulness by Rabbi Ari Kayser and Rabbi Dov Cowan.
Another highlight of this year’s Aleinu conference was the Women’s Programme, welcoming Rebbetzen Jacqueline Feldman who spoke on a Jewish Women’s Balancing Act in 2020, Rebbetzin Rochelle Cowan on Physical Wellness and putting yourself first and Rebbetzen Ruthie Halberstadt on G-d pushing our boundaries.
Participants commented that Aleinu is a tremendous example of collaboration in the Anglo Jewish education particularly during a week of some communal disagreements amongst various Rabbinical figures Aleinu reminded many of the need to work together, offering an opportunity to share achievements, learn key practical educational skills, offer support and encourage a positive momentum moving forward.
Aleinu invited attendees to a gala dinner on Wednesday evening, which featured, live music and a kumzitz led by Rabbi YY Jacobson as well as an opportunity to mark the recovery of the Rabbi Benjy Morgan from an illness.
Rabbi Naftali Schiff, CEO of Jewish Futures said: “Aleinu is a truly remarkable concept, every year for the last 7 years, Aleinu brings together the individual outreach organisations for one purpose; to work together to ensure Jewish futures. This year we had the honour of hosting Rabbi YY Jacobson as our keynote speaker, who covered the increasingly more important topic of boundaries in education. We would like to say a big thank you to Rabbi YY Jacobson, as well as all of the Aleinu steering committee for putting on another exceptional conference.”