A 1975 graduate of Ida Crown, Rabbi Jeff Seidel lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife Penina Green (ICJA ’77). “My work is to inspire and empower young people to have a deep feeling for Eretz Yisrael and to be better advocates for Eretz Yisrael,” he explains. In 1984, he founded Ohel Avraham, a Jewish Student Center in Jerusalem. For over 36 years, Jeff’s mission has been to expose, involve and immerse Jewish students in religious Jewish life with the goal of expanding and increasing their appreciation of their own heritage. He has touched the lives of thousands of young Jewish people from many countries around the world.
At Ohel Avraham, Jeff has arranged Jewish experiences, offered classes, and distributed siddurim and Jewish books to tour groups, including Birthright tours, for years. For decades, Jeff was known in Jewish communities across the world for his presence at the Western Wall every Shabbat, when he’d arrange visiting Jewish young adults to spend Shabbat meals with local Shabbat-observant families in Jerusalem.
In recent years, Jeff has expanded his work across Israel, opening Jewish centers near Israeli universities in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Herzliya and Beersheba. In addition to his regular programming, this Chanukah Jeff is giving out thousands of chanukiot and candles, enabling Israeli students to celebrate the holiday.
Jeff counts ICJA as a major influence on his community involvement. “Ida Crown was open to Jews of different backgrounds,” he recalls, fostering a sense of ahavat Yisrael. Jeff also recalls Rabbi Meyer Juzint encouraging students to make phone calls on behalf of refuseniks, which helped spark Jeff’s and other students’ commitment to working on behalf of fellow Jews.