It was suggested that I put the entire letter I wrote about responding to Beit Shemesh on the blog – so here it is.
A few weeks ago I spoke in shul about the ongoing crisis in Beit Shemesh, Israel where a group of extremist Chareidim are attempting to intimidate the Religious Zionist / Modern Orthodox community. There has been rock throwing, spitting, verbal abuse and threats.
After the sermon a number of people asked if there is anything that our community can do to support the community under attack.
In response to those inquiries I contacted leaders of the MO/RZ community in BeitShemesh. After much discussion a conclusion was reached that the best response on our part would be to assist the MO/RZ community in strengthening their presence in Beit Shemesh by raising funds so that their youth group headquarters can be completed. I cannot think of a better way to counter the intimidation that is meant to drive this community away than to build and put down even stronger roots.
This response on our part creates a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name) by reacting in a positive manner and in a way that will directly affect the children who have been the targets of the intimidation. The headquarters will be on the campus of the local Religious Zionist elementary schools – Orot Banot and Orot Banim, the very schools that have been targeted by the extremists. The vast majority of members of the youth group attend the Orot schools.
Checks can be made out to American Friends of Beit Knesset Feigenson” a US 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Please note on the check that the funds are for the “Ezra snif” and mail to: Marc Tobin , Rechov Hayasmin 21 A, Beit Shemesh, Israel 99591.
“But the more they were oppressed, the more they increased and spread out…” (Exodus 1:12)
This project presents us with an opportunity to reply to intimidation with courage, to react to destruction with building, ands most importantly, to answer Chillul Hashem (desecration of God’s name) with Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name).
With hopes for peace and with love of Zion,
Rabbi Barry Gelman