Over twenty years ago the vision of Religious Zionist Batei Midrash with shlichim from Israel was born. The underlying need was the reality that there was no venue for continued learning Torah for those returning from their Gap Year in Israel. Those seeking high level learning turned to Charedi institutions, but there was no continuation of the Israeli and Zionist experience. Thus "Torah MiTzion" was formed - a Religious Zionist revolution. Why did it all start in Johannesburg? That is the city where I grew up, and where I chose to become religious. It served as the basis for my thinking, to analyze the situation and alternatives and to ultimately create a functioning model for a solution, which still operates today - the Torah MiTzion Kollel.
The first Zionist Kollel to open within this framework was established in Memphis, Tennessee. Since then, the phenomenon has spread like wildfire and within a few years we started about 18 Kollels worldwide.
The Johannesburg Kollel was established 18 years ago, and has since gone through many changes until it reached its current successful model under the leadership of Rabbi Shlomo Glicksberg
. The Beit Midrash, known as the Beit Mordechai Campus Kollel, is located in the Mizrachi Shul in Glenhazel
, where Averichim, dozens of boys and girls returning from their year in Israel, high school aged Bnei Akiva members, college students and Ba'alei Batim learn daily.
The focus of my visit was to strengthen the connection between Jerusalem and Johannesburg, to examine ways of working together and to meet with the Kollel leadership, the Mizrachi and "Yeshiva College"
(the school I learned in as a student).
During the visit in Johannesburg we explored the option of expanding the Kollel's activity to nearby cities. I met with Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein
in order to strengthen our partnership and discuss implementing the Global Shabbat Project in Torah MiTzion centers worldwide.
Amazing place. Amazing people. 21 years of impact and success.
There is a sentence that describes the uniqueness and beauty of this city: "When God created Cape Town, He was in a good mood." The city also attracts unique people - each time it is exciting to see the dedication of community members to the Herzlia Schoo
l, various synagogues, and the Kollel. The "Yeshiva of Cape Town"
was established over 21 years ago by Rabbi Jonathan Glass,
who conceived, pushed and established the model that has become integral to the evolution of Torah MiTzion.
For 20 years, the Kollel was located in the Arthur's Road Shul
, known as Beit Midrash Morasha
. The highlight of the Kollel was the broad spectrum of Chavrutot with community members, which expanded to other synagogues in the nearby communities of Clermont, Milnerton, Camps Bay and more.
A year ago, the Kollel moved to the Marais Road Shul
in order to enhance and expand their impact. The focus of my visit was to meet the leadership of the Synagogue - Rabbi Weinberg and Rabbi Hecht
, and of course to meet with the director of Herzlia Schools, Jeff Cohen
and his team.
Today there are four Torah MiTzion Bachurim who divide their time between informal education in the Herzliya Schools, Limud Torah, chavrutot and special activities around the holidays - Eliya Fuks, Aharon Shoklink, Netanel Miness and Daniel Halle.