In 1997, we started with a few simple outreach programs—a day camp in Rostock, a Jewish holiday event in Aachen, a weekend seminar in Leipzig.
The programs were successful but something was missing. It made little sense to create outreach programs without a base to reach out from, or a center to bring people to.
schoolThat is when we developed a model on which we would build—a pyramid: with Berlin at the top, regional centers below, and national outreach programs reaching into dozens of other communities.
We opened a Yeshiva—a place where young Jewish men discover how to think rigorously, challenge relentlessly, and prioritize learning in life, irrespective of occupation and profession. We established a comparable institution for young women, the Midrasha, first in Frankfurt, then Berlin.
When we relocated the Midrasha to Berlin, we introduced the young men of the Yeshiva to the young women of the Midrasha. There were weddings; families soon followed. We then established a Kollel—an institute of advanced learning for young Rabbis and their families. We opened a kindergarten, a Sunday school, and then a primary school.
Soon after, we opened regional outreach centers in northern and eastern Germany. We created regular learning groups for university students in Berlin, Leipzig and Hamburg, and organized Shabbat visits to Berlin for youth groups across the country. These programs now draw hundreds of children, teenagers, and university students not only to our weekly events, but also to our summer and winter camps. We also began sending youth groups to Israel to learn, to get to know the Jewish state, and to connect to their Jewish roots.
News of our activities then spread to Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Russia and other countries, and we began to enroll international students in our institutions. Today, young men and women from these countries are joining our programs, learning with us, and then returning home to enrich Jewish life across Europe.