Once a year, the RCE holds a major conference for European rabbis to discuss issues that are on the agenda of European Jewry, along with panels debating Halachic problems arising as a result of technological development or European legislation on various issues.
The annual conference creates an opportunity for rabbis to meet and chat with their colleagues on a range of issues that stress European rabbis. The participants serving in remote countries consisting of sparse Jewish communities truly rejuvenises their energy.
The annual conference is held each year in a different European country where the local Jewish community hosts the RCE rabbis.
Hundreds of European rabbis who are members of the RCE are invited to the annual conference. The leaders of the RCE make sure to bring a series of Rabbis prolific in Halacha who instruct them and allow rabbis to raise halachic challenges that need a solution.
Various current community issues such as assimilation, wavering Jewish youth, and a host of other topics are also raised during the conference, aimed to captivate youth to Judaism.
Conference classes and content enrich the rabbis and their knowledge, and return them brimming with Halachic knowledge and self-confidence to their communities.
CHUPPAH AND KIDDUSHIN COURSE
The RCE and Communal Rabbis deserve massive credit for the revival of Jewish identity in various communities. Alternativlely, the community rabbis turned to the RCE to organize a hands-on Chuppah and Kiddushin course so that they perform the marriage ceremonies properly according to Halacha. Since the rabbis had not learned the Halachot of Chuppah and Kiddushin, there was a need to train young community Rabbis and it turned out to be such a success that the course has been held every year.
Several months before the course begins, the rabbis who registered are given Halachic sources to study on the subject. The course itself is conducted for 4 days. It is delivered by Rabbi Eliyahu Bar Shalom, Rabbi of Bat- Yam Israel, who teaches practicality. At the end of the course the Rabbis take a written and oral exam presented by the RCE council.
Those who pass the exam receive a certificate signed by the RCE council and the Chief Rabbis of Israel.
The course generates knowledgeable Rabbis conversed in the details of the Jewish marriage ceremony and all its details. This helps marry off couples according to Halakha, and prevents assimilation or partner life without marriage.
FAMILY PURITY COURSE
Community rabbis appealed for a detailed course in the laws of family purity so that they would know how to Halachically rule their community on one of the central issues of the Jewish home. The course on family purity is held once a year with practicum, and is delivered by one of the leading European Rabbis, a member of the RCE and publisher in London, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Raskin.
As an integral part of the professional training that the RCE provides for European rabbis, a kashrut seminar is held every two years. Experts from the world of Kashrut and technology give professional lectures in which they incorporate the rabbis, some of whom are kashrut supervisors and others serve as overseers, in technological information, present the problems that exist, and describe solutions to their colleagues on a range of issues that stress European rabbis.
Among the community rabbis are those who oversee the kashrut of various products and those who serve as ‘overseers’. Both are familiar with these issues.
At recent conferences, issues related to the development of kosher food products have been raised as a result of global technology and the use of various ingredients. Solutions are raised by rabbis and overseers in the field, who have attended previous conferences. These solutions are currently being implemented by food factories distributing their products worldwide. Besides that, presently there are products in development under review.
The RCE in conjunction with the Meromim Foundation has supported the building and renovating of 72 luxurious women’s mikvahs in various European cities (see separate chapter). Mikvah seminars are conducted by rabbis and experts who educate community rabbis the laws of the mikvah building and its details, what rules must be kept, instruction for ongoing maintenance and a host of technical issues and solutions in the event of a malfunction.
The seminar is a costly and condensed course, where top professionals share their vast experience with the rabbis. Issues that in the past would have disrupted the mikvah’s activities, are now solved quickly by the local rabbi. After completing the course, the Rabbis have the capability to consult with professionals and order various accessories when necessary.
CHEVRA KADISHA COURSE
The life cycle requires treatment for the deceased. Community rabbis found themselves missing the necessary knowledge required to deal with these issues and therefore requested a course on the subject through the “Rabbinical Center of Europe”. Rabbi Yaakov Ruza, a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, and a member of the ZAKA organization, presented and trained Rabbis how to give proper Jewish burial according to all the rules of halakha.
This is a complex issue, with many and unique halakhic details. The RCE’s management has beseeched Rabbi Ruza to allow rabbis to consult with him on urgent issues of this type any time of day.
The RCE subsidized the expensive course.
THE FORUM OF YOUNG RABBIS
The Forum for Young Rabbis meets once a year, and is one of the RCE’s unique projects that provides a great contribution to Jewish communities in Europe.
The course is intended for 26-40-year old rabbis who have served minimum of 4 years in the local rabbinate.
The forum is hosted every year by another member, and rabbis from all over Europe participate.
The young Rabbis formulate the discussions in the forum. The chosen topics are presented at a professional level and deal with a wide range of issues such as youth care dropout, increased Jewish youth and community contact, fundraising, interpersonal conduct, how to “build” a speech, articulateness , proper use of communication, community management, home and outdoor education, and a host of issues.
Their feedback noted that the forum provided great impact and caused immediate improvement with their communal activities, and it assisted them in obtaining “tools” to improvise and upgrade their communications. They stated that they believe it will ultimately add positive affect to the activities of the entire Jewish community.
The Chana organization is a ‘social club’ for the European Rebbetzins. While the local rabbi in an official role who deals with the needs of the community, the Rebbetzin has the burden of combining tasks like home maintenance, children’s education and working with the women in the community. Halachic inquiries are brought to the Rebbetzin in various areas (family purity, family issues and more) and she constitutes as an ‘attentive ear’ on many and varied topics.
The RCE identified the need of creating a “social club” for the rabbis’ wives to strengthen the relationship amongst them. 250 Rebbetzins are members, and they conduct a large variety of activities alongside meetings for various seminars, such as the mikvah attendants’ course and more. At each such meeting, professional lectures in various fields are presented.
The responses received by the RCE staff have shown how helpful and contributing the club’s activities are. The ability to consult and share with others at various events, allows everyone to enjoy the experience and get good advice on how to cope. The Rebbetzins noted that this greatly improved their functioning.
The Needs include bringing professionals to lectures adding frequent conferences, and reaching out to more participants. This will greatly assist in working with the Jewish communities everywhere.