LAKEWOOD, N.J. (Feb. 5)
The Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America will send a “Torah task force” of rabbis, teachers and social workers to Jewish communities in Latin America in an effort to stem “a breakdown in religious life” due to lack of leadership in those communities. It was announced here today. The announcement was made by Rabbi Pusach Levovitz, president of the Council, at its annual mid-winter conference which opened here today. Five hundred Orthodox rabbis from the U.S.A. and Canada are attending.
Rabbi Levovitz mentioned five countries–Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico–where “task force” teams will be sent initially. The “task force” project will be headed by Rabbi Zev Segal, vice-president of the Rabbinical Council. The program also calis for the training of young Latin American Jews in the United States and Israel to take up positions as rabbis, teachers and social workers in their own communities.
Rabbi Levovitz said the decision to create the “task force” resulted from a survey conducted by the Rabbinical Council which revealed a “critical shortage” of religious leaders in Latin American Jewish communities since World War II. Some communities of as many as 20,000 to 25,000 Jews are without rabbis, youth leaders, teachers or social workers, Rabbi Levovitz said. “As a consequence, their institutional structure and spiritual life has deteriorated dangerously to a point where there is an actual threat of a breakdown of religious life.” He said that the survey’s findings were confirmed by Latin American rabbis who attended the recent conference of Ashkenazi and Sephardic synagogues in Jerusalem. They asked their North American counterparts to make assistance to their communities a top priority.