The Vision

The Jewish people needs great leaders. With assimilation around the world at an all-time high, there is a pressing demand for inspiring rabbis and educators to reinvigorate our synagogues, uplift our schools and build communities based on intellectually compelling and spiritually uplifting Judaism.

To transform this dream into reality, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin established the Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary, which prepares talented young scholars for rabbinic ordination, and the Adolph and Ethel Beren Educators Institute, which provides teachers with the tools needed to offer the richest possible programming to their schools and communities.

Recognizing that Jewish leadership is not only about expertise in Jewish law, but also the ability to share that knowledge with others and inspire them with a love of our tradition, Rabbi Riskin invited former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay, Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum, to join him as the founding Director of the Beren-Amiel and Straus-Amiel programs in order to professionally train a cadre of inspiring educators and rabbis. The young, dynamic graduates of these programs are dedicated to energizing schools, communities, congregations and university campuses with a vision of Judaism which is authentic, relevant, sensitive and compassionate.

At the heart of our philosophy lies the belief that rabbis and educators must be learned, well organized, dynamic professionals, capable of building bridges between Jews of all levels of observance and showing respect and sensitivity to all.

  • Beren-Amiel provides comprehensive training to create professional and engaging educators to teach in schools across the Diaspora.
  • Straus-Amiel trains innovative, dynamic young rabbis to provide exemplary leadership in synagogues and communities throughout the world.
  • The Claudia Cohen Women Educators Institute provides the spouses of our educators and rabbis with comprehensive training to enable them to serve as efficient partners and role models in their adoptive communities.