Receive weekly insights from the Chief Rabbi
Office of the Chief Rabbi

The Chief Rabbi’s Ben Azzai Programme

The question is asked in the Jerusalem Talmud: “What is the most important verse of the entire Torah?”

Ben Azzai answers:

“Genesis 5:1, which reads: ‘This is the book of the generations of man on the day that God created man, in the image of God He formed him’.”

Ben Azzai was highlighting the fact that every human being is created in the image of God. Consequently, we have an achrayut, responsibility, towards those who are both inside and outside our immediate communities. Following my first-hand experience of the vital work of Jewish charities on a visit to India with Valerie in 2015, I created the Ben Azzai Programme, and named it in recognition of Ben Azzai’s choice of verse.

I am delighted that the programme, working in partnership with World Jewish Relief, will involve a visit to Rwanda to understand the role of international development and empowerment in communities affected by poverty, learning from World Jewish Relief’s partners on the ground.

The participants will join previous Ben Azzai Programme alumni as my social responsibility ambassadors and will be expected to share their Ben Azzai experiences across the Jewish community and beyond, in schools, communities and on campus. They will have opportunities for ongoing interaction with high-level speakers, continuing their journey as Jewish leaders of tomorrow. For the first time, they will also be able to apply for internships exclusively for programme participants, allowing them to gain an insight into Jewish organisations which work to tackle global issues.

I look forward to engaging personally with the future groups taking part in this programme.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis.

July 2023

The Ben Azzai Programme is for anyone Jewish aged 18 and over who is currently enrolled on a course at a university or college or is taking part in an apprenticeship.

The programme will run from November 2023 – January 2024 and will consist of:

  • An introductory shabbaton, 24th-26th November 2023
  • An 8-day trip to Rwanda, 13th-21st December 2023
  • A follow up day, 21st January 2024

Programme highlights include:

  • A unique opportunity to visit Rwanda, learn about its history and culture, as well as explore the impact of development and empowerment in communities which are affected by poverty and climate change
  • Time to hear from and engage with the Chief Rabbi and become his ambassador for global social responsibility
  • Learn about global issues and why there is a Jewish responsibility to understand and tackle them, with a group of likeminded peers
  • Be at the forefront of engaging the Jewish community with global issues by sharing your experiences at the end of the programme, set up your own social responsibility initiative, and apply for unique internships
  • Develop and strengthen your leadership skills across the programme

To participate in the Ben Azzai Programme, you must be able to attend all of the dates listed above.

The participation fee for the programme is £300. Bursaries are available for those for whom this fee would be restrictive.

To apply for the Ben Azzai Programme 2023/24, please click here.

For more information about the Ben Azzai Programme, please contact or call 020 8343 6301.


What should I expect from participating on the programme?

  • You will spend time as a group developing your understanding of important global issues from a Jewish perspective
  • You will be able to develop your leadership, public speaking, and writing skills, with the chance to spread the message of the Ben Azzai Programme to a wider audience
  • You will participate in a range of sessions, such as Jewish responses to climate change, and how to community ethically when talking about trips on social media

What will the trip to Rwanda involve?

  • You will stay in the capital of Rwanda, Kigali, and in Rwamangana in the Eastern Province, exploring both city and rural areas with expert local guides and learning about how history impacts us all
  • You will visit changemakers, farming communities and organisations within the Eastern Province and meet young people embarking on diverse careers
  • You will have the chance to celebrate Shabbat and Chanukah in Rwanda

What is involved in the application process?

  • In the first stage, you will need to complete the application form, submit a 2-minute video of yourself explaining why you want to go on the Ben Azzai Programme, and share your CV
  • In the second stage, you will have an online interview with the programme organisers

What is unique about this programme?

  • This is a unique Jewish programme in the UK which gives young Jews the opportunity to learn about global issues such as climate change, refugees and development within a Jewish framework
  • You will have the opportunity to bond with other young likeminded Jewish students and apprentices, and create a cohort who are interested in why Jewish people should care about global issues

What happens if I am unavailable for one of the dates listed above?

  • All participants, when they are accepted onto the programme, must confirm that they are able to attend all the sessions
  • If for any reason you are unable to attend something, please let the organisers knows as soon as possible as this may affect your ability to apply

How much does the programme cost? What happens if I am unable to afford it?

  • Each participant is asked to pay the £300 participation fee. As the programme includes a trip to Rwanda, each participant will also need to cover the cost of any vaccinations and medications they need to allow them to enter the country safely (depending on whether you already have any of the vaccinations or tablets, and whether you use the NHS, this could come to around £110). Participants will also be expected to cover their travel costs to get to and from the in-person elements of the programme.
  • There are bursaries and stipends available for those who are unable to cover all or some of these costs. You should not feel unable to apply or partake in the programme because of the cost of participation

Pears Logo

The Chief Rabbi’s Ben Azzai Programme is an Office of the Chief Rabbi initiative in partnership with World Jewish Relief and OLAM, supported by Pears Foundation