Sefardic rabbis from over 20 countries – including the United States, Canada, London, Spain, France, Argentina, and Mexico – convened at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem during the first week of December for the first worldwide Sefardic Rabbinical Conference.
The weeklong convention was organized by senior Sefardic Rabbis in Israel in order to build a stronger bridge between Sefardic communities and Rabbinical courts around the world, and to unify them under the halachic position of the late sage, Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l. The conference came to a close with nearly 200 rabbis signing a proclamation to join a newly formed umbrella organization named “Ichud Harabbanim Hasfardim Haolami.”
The Queens community was well-represented at the convention, with over a dozen local rabbis in attendance. The newly-appointed head rabbi of the Bukharian community, Rav Yitzchak Yisraeli, addressed the convention and held several meetings with numerous Rabbinical figures in order to advance the communities’ spiritual growth. Other local rabbis in attendance included Rav Eliyahu Ben Chaim of the Sefardic Bet Din, Rav Yigal Haimoff of Yeshiva Ohel Simcha in Kew Gardens Hills, and Rabbi Emanuel Shimonov of Beth Gavriel in Forest Hills.
Queens’ Chazaq outreach was heavily involved with the newly formed organization, having been involved with the initial start up prior to Rav Ovadia Yosef’s passing in 2013. Rav Yosef’s children, Rav Yitzchak and Rav David, addressed the audience and publicly praised Chazaq director Rabbi Ilan Meirov as a symbol of dedication to Jewish public school students and overall community outreach.
In addition to addressing rabbinical matters, the delegation was granted an audience with leading Israeli politicians and lawmakers, including President Rubi Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where they had the opportunity to discuss matters of security both in Israel and abroad.