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Rabbi Dr. Rafi Feuerstein is the President of the Feuerstein Institute, where he directs the mission and focus of the Feuerstein Institute’s work. His passion lies in spearheading new initiatives to improve the quality of education available to children, adolescents, teens, and young adults worldwide.
From Shaping Jewish Identity to Shaping Educational-Clinical Identity
Rafi Feuerstein (b. 1959) is the eldest son of Feuerstein Institute founder Professor Reuven and Bertha (nee. Guggenheim) Feuerstein. He is married to Tal (a cognitive therapist), and together they have eight children and five grandchildren.
Feuerstein began his higher education at Yeshiva Merkaz HaRav in Jerusalem (1977-1985), where he earned his rabbinical ordination. Upon completion, he continued to study Jewish Law at the prestigious Psagot Kollel. By 1988, Feuerstein was appointed senior instructor for Gemara and Jewish philosophy at the Kibbutz Ein Tzurim Yeshiva. Five years later, he became the Kibbutz’s first Chief Rabbi.
Feuerstein’s second eldest child, Elhanan, was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome in 1989. This created a shift in Feuerstein’s professional interests, and he began to study psychology and philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, before completing his BA and Ph.D. at the University of Paris 8 in France. By 1993, Feuerstein joined his father at the International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential (now the Feuerstein Institute). Throughout his tenure, Feuerstein has developed intervention techniques for preventing human error in the business sector, advocated for the integration of people from diverse cultural backgrounds into the mainstream population, and lobbied for the integration of thinking and learning processes in the education system in Israel, as well as internationally. He has co-authored several books and articles concerning the Feuerstein Method and is considered one of the leading experts in Dynamic Assessment.
In 2014, following his father’s passing, Rabbi Feuerstein was appointed as the President of Feuerstein Institute, a position in which he serves to this day.
A Man of Many Talents
Among Feuerstein’s most significant activities (outside of the Feuerstein Institute) was the foundation of the Tzohar organization, together with Rabbi David Stav and Rabbi Yitzhak Lahman. The organization, which was founded after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was created to bring a sense of Jewish identity to all of Israeli society and currently serves as an “alternative Chief Rabbinate,” contributing greatly to changing many secular Jews’ approach towards their Jewish identity and making religious services more accessible to the public. Feuerstein served as the organization’s Chief Rabbi for 5 years, until his appointment as the Chief Rabbi of Har Nof Jerusalem’s National-Religious Community in 2000, a position he still holds today.
Rabbi Dr. Feuerstein is a popular speaker across Israel and around the globe on the topics of education, treatment, and Judaism. He advocates for narrowing social and educational gaps, the integration of people with disabilities in society, and for the promotion of a shared Jewish identity for all Jewish people.