Ohr Torah Stone

Ohr Torah Stone (OTS) (Hebrew: אור תורה סטון‎) is an international Modern Orthodox movement that aims to develop Jewish life, learning and leadership. The organization is led by Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander. In 1983 OTS was founded by Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin. As of 2020 OTS included 27 educational institutions under its auspices.[1][2][3]

Ohr Torah Stone
אור תורה סטון
OTS vertical.jpg
Formation1983; 38 years ago (1983)
Founded atEfrat
ServicesJewish education and social justice
Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander
Founder, Chancellor and Rosh HaYeshiva
Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin
SubsidiariesCenter for Jewish–Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), Midreshet Lindenbaum

The organization also includes a network of 300-plus emissaries who serve in positions of spiritual and educational leadership across the globe in North America, South America, Central America, Australia, and New Zealand.[4][5][6][7] OTS has initiated numerous programs in the realm of women's leadership and empowerment, leadership training, Jewish outreach, and social action, which have received both national and international acclaim for their groundbreaking nature.[8] OTS has stated that its primary guiding principle is to ensure the accessibility of Judaism to each and every Jew—particularly addressing populations which had been previously marginalized, disenfranchised or alienated.[9][10][11]

Jewish women's empowermentEdit

OTS's programs for women have opened doors in the realm of Jewish Orthodox female scholarship and leadership that had previously been shut to the entire female population. OTS started the first school to teach post-high school women Talmud on a high level. OTS’s women’s college features the largest women’s beit midrash [study hall] in Jewish history. The college has produced female leaders of Jewish communities worldwide, including the first female to officially serve as the director of a rabbinical court.[12][13]

OTS's women's college developed a program specifically for women with special needs. The curriculum allows participants to acquire both learning and vocational skills, build independence and improve self-esteem, while expanding their love of Torah, Israel, and the Jewish people. The program had proven so successful that in 2017, a parallel program was established for young men.[14][15]

Another OTS program enables religious women to serve in the Israeli army: where previously these women were forced to choose between service to their country and living an observant lifestyle, now they are inducted as a group and strengthened by intense study before, during and after their service.[16][17]

OTS also opened the first school in the world to train women and certify them as advocates in the Rabbinical Courts. Only because of OTS’s appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court did women win the legal right to practice in the Courts –an arena which was, previously open only to men. The school then opened a Legal Aid Center and Hotline for Israeli women who are agunot (The agunah is a woman literally “chained” to a dead or abusive marriage whose husband refuses to grant her a Jewish writ of divorce) and are in need of free advice and legal representation in matters pertaining to the process of obtaining a religious divorce.[18][19]

Contemporary Jewish leadershipEdit

Ohr Torah Stone’s Rabbinical Seminary prepares rabbis to be both fluent in secular learning as well as the Talmud. The curriculum is one which is immersed in contemporary concerns as well as Jewish law and legal texts. At the same time, the OTS Educators Institute comprehensively trains educators to teach Judaic Studies in both Orthodox and non-Orthodox state and community schools across Israel and the Diaspora.

An additional OTS yeshiva is geared towards young men both with and without previous yeshiva backgrounds from North America, Europe, South Africa and Australia.

Hundreds of OTS-trained teachers and spiritual leaders have served in communities spanning the globe.[20][21]

Many of the OTS graduates have joined the ranks of OTS trained Jewish Cultural Facilitators who provide formal and informal Jewish education for Israelis of all ages and backgrounds. This initiative works in conjunction with Israeli Community Centers. Media coverage has reported that these facilitators actively promote Jewish values, national unity, and heritage awareness in a non-coercive environment.[22][8]

OTS high schoolsEdit

OTS has established 6 modern Orthodox high schools within the Jerusalem and Gush Etzion regions. All of these high schools offer official matriculation and have been awarded recognition of excellence from the Israeli Ministry of Education.

OTS around the worldEdit

Each year, OTS sends spiritual and educational leaders to serve as emissaries in Jewish communities all over the world. These emissaries are active in synagogues, campuses and schools, and Jewish communities across the globe.

Schools and programsEdit

Programs for menEdit

  • Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary
  • Robert M. Beren College
  • Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva
  • OTS Metivta, Carmiel
  • Elaine And Norm Brodsky Darkaynu Program

Programs for womenEdit

  • Midreshet Lindenbaum College for Women, Jerusalem
  • Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod
  • Midreshet Lindenbaum-Matat, Carmiel
  • Yad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center And Hotline For Women

Emissary programsEdit

  • Beren-Amiel Educational Emissaries
  • Claudia Cohen Women Educators Institute
  • Maarava – Rabbinic Emissaries to Sephardic Communities
  • Straus-Amiel Rabbinic Emissaries
  • OTS Amiel BaKehila
  • Ohr Torah Nidchei Yisrael
  • Yachad Program for Jewish Identity

Junior high and high schoolsEdit

  • Derech Avot Junior High and High School for Boys, Efrat
  • Jacob Sapirstein Junior High and High School For Boys, Ramot, Jerusalem
  • Jennie Sapirstein Junior High fnd High School For Girls, Ramot, Jerusalem
  • Neveh Channah High School for Girls, In Memory Of Anna Ehrman, Gush Etzion
  • Neveh Shmuel Yeshiva High School for Boys, In Memory Of Samuel Pinchas Ehrman, Efrat
  • Oriya Girls' High School, Gush Etzion
  • Ann Belsky Moranis Program For Arts And Drama

Conversion programsEdit

  • Conversion Institute for Spanish Speakers - Efrat, Israel
  • Jewish Learning Center - New York

International programsEdit

Further readingEdit


  1. ^ Edward Abramson, A Circle in the Square: Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Reinvents the Synagogue, Urim Publications 2008
  2. ^ http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=100951 Archived 2019-02-02 at the Wayback Machine, Rabbinical Council of America Website, Unknown Author, Retrieved on April 23, 2017
  3. ^ "Ohr Torah Stone: Who We Are". OTS. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  4. ^ Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum, "Rav Olami," First Source (Hebrew), October 4, 2013.
  5. ^ Koren, Rabbi Nir (23 September 2014). "Kshe'Kol haShofar Nishma Be'veit haKele Be'Meksiko" (in Hebrew). NRG. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  6. ^ Koren, Rabbi Nir (21 December 2014). "Chanuka be'Kolumbia" (in Hebrew). NRG. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  7. ^ Ravid, Shira (27 June 2016). "Emissaries in their Own Right" (in Hebrew). Kipa Website. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  8. ^ a b Isi Leibler, "The Incredible Rabbi Shlomo Riskin," The Jerusalem Post, Thursday, March 3, 2011
  9. ^ Zev Eleff, Modern Orthodox Judaism: A Documentary History, University of Nebraska Press, 2016
  10. ^ Chagai Segel, First Source (Hebrew), January 1, 2012
  11. ^ "The Sound of the Shofar". TIME Magazine. 4 October 1971. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  12. ^ Sharon, Jeremy (15 November 2016). "Woman to Serve as Rabbinical Court Administrator". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  13. ^ Katsman, Hannaah (26 January 2017). "Intergenerational Learning". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  14. ^ SOFER, BARBARA (15 March 2013). "'Kol dichfin, kol ditzrich': All with special needs". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  15. ^ Bracha Bender, "A Year of their Own," Mishpacha Magazine, Vol. Feb 8, 2012.
  16. ^ Datner, Natan. "Tzulam beYom Chol". Israel Broadcasting Authority. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  17. ^ Wagner, Matthew (9 August 2006). "Women of Valor: Rabbis spar over IDF service for women". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  18. ^ Sharon, Jeremy (16 January 2017). "Father of Divorce Refuser Avoids Jail Time, But Banned From Leaving Israel". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  19. ^ Ettinger, Yair (15 March 2016). "In Historic Ruling, Israeli Rabbinical Court Jails Father for Abetting Son's Refusal of Divorce". Haaretz. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  20. ^ http://hamodia.com/2017/04/19/torn-torah-scrolls-laid-rest-74-years/, Hamodia Staff, "Torn Torah Scrolls Laid to Rest After 74 Years," Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 6:38 pm.
  21. ^ https://ots.org.il/straus-seminary-musmach-appointed-chief-rabbi-frankfurt/, "Straus Seminary Musmach Elected Chief Rabbi of Frankfurt", March 9, 2016.
  22. ^ Kopatch, Gil (8 September 2015). "We Need to Serve as a Light Unto the Nations and Serve as a Model of Unity" (in Hebrew). NRG. Retrieved 23 April 2017.

External linksEdit