The Barkai Awards ceremony was held in Modi'in on Monday, during which awards were given in the categories of Rabbi of the year, Gabbai of the year (the person who assists in the running of synagogue and its services) and Community of the Year.
This year’s award focused on initiatives and activities that bolster community resilience through the religious leadership, while uniting the community under one structure of will, strength and mutual aid.The ceremony was attended by the rabbi of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon, the head of Chaverim Makshivim (Listening Friends) Rabbi Yoni Lavie, rabbis of the Barkai communities throughout the country and other public figures.
Rabbi of the Year in the prestigious award went to Rabbi Yonah Meshulam HaCohen Fodor of the Beit Yehuda Synagogue in the Bait Vegan neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Two gabbai'im were chosen to receive the Gabbai of the Year award because of a tie in the final scoring: Shalom Atia from the Orot Ha’Torah community in Bat Yam and Yehonatan Nadav from the Kibbutz Na'an community.
The Ramat Eshkol community in Lod was named the Community of the Year for its “steadfast resistance to the riots in the city and the resilience of its members.”
Rabbinical training program
The ceremony marked the fifth cycle of a community rabbinical training program during which rabbis from various communities across the country undergo training. The training takes over 600 hours of study, spread over two years of weekly sessions. It includes lessons in halakhic issues as well as in social and community areas.
Founded a decade ago, the Barkai organization currently consists of 75 communities spread throughout the country. The organization believes that “it’s possible and necessary to build the communities in Israel in a different, more professional and orderly way, to facilitate the growth of these communities and enhance their resilience and support for their members.”
"It is important to us that exemplary communities, gabbais and rabbis know that their work is valued and cherished,” said Barkai head Rabbi David Fine.
“We see their dedication and want to say thank you. The Land of Israel is a better place thanks to them. We wish to turn our communities into more caring and supportive ones, creating better people."
“We see their dedication and want to say thank you. The Land of Israel is a better place thanks to them. We wish to turn our communities into more caring and supportive ones, creating better people."Barkai head Rabbi David Fine
His colleague, Rabbi Shlomo Sobol, added that "The COVID-19 pandemic period and then shortly after, a period of disturbances in the mixed Israeli cities, posed a challenge to all of the communities in Israel. It was an ad hoc test for the communities' ability to mobilize all the forces and resources to support those in need.”