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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 gives the answer: “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 wants us to know that the greatest pillar of our faith is recognition of the fact that every human being is created in the image of God.

It is the spirit underpinning Ben Azzai’s choice of verse that this programme, in his name, will reflect the importance of social responsibility as an integral part of our identity, as engaged and outward-facing Jews.

Following a visit that Valerie and I made to India in 2015, where we saw first-hand a number of outstanding examples of social responsibility supported by the Jewish community, which strive to alleviate the considerable need that exists in the country, I am delighted to introduce the Ben Azzai Programme.

It is an annual initiative open to high calibre university students, taking them on an immersive and extraordinary international trip to the developing world, to learn about the challenges of poverty, education and social mobility. They will meet with individuals and organisations working in these areas, and will do so within an Orthodox framework.

By joining the programme, a group of ambassadors attuned to the place of social responsibility within Jewish identity, will be created. Central to the initiative is the follow up that will take place on return from the trip. Participants will share their experiences widely, within communities, in schools, on campus and beyond.

We will be working together with a number of exceptional partners who are leaders in this field, and I am pleased to have their support and expertise.

The principle of Achrayut, responsibility, is at the heart of everything we do as Jews; the Ben Azzai Programme will show how this extends, proudly, to meeting our responsibility to humanity-at-large.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis


To register your interest for the Ben Azzai Programme 2020/21, please click here.

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

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

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