On Rosh Chodesh Tamuz (July 3) Ayelet HaShachar will celebrate the Chanukas Habayis of a new shul in Kibbutz Meggido in the Jezreel Valley, not far from Afula. Kibbutz Megiddo was begun as a HaShomer HaTzair secular kibbutz, but slowly some signs of interest in a spiritual connection began appearing. While Ayelet HaShachar has been involved in helping to establish synagogues in many communities, this one was special in that it is the result of a long-term joint effort of kibbutz members and Ayelet HaShachar volunteers planning and building it together. Ayelet HaShachar provided much of the funding for the shul, and also for the Torah and Judaism library which will be used as an ongoing Bet Midrash. It is expected that the building will be used throughout the area for Bnai Mitzva and other occasions when families are looking to connect to their heritage.
Special thanks go to Rafi and Ester Katz of Los Angeles in supporting this wonderful venture. May the timing fulfill the name of תמוז – זמן תפילה ממש ובא !
מגילת היסוד קיבוץ מגידו "היום, יום ב´ בשבט תש"ט (02.02.1949), שנה ראשונה למדינת ישראל, עלינו כאן חברי הקיבוץ "השומר הצעיר" על שם יוסף קפלן ואנו מניחים יסוד לישוב חדש במולדת "בני בלי בית, בני בלי שם, פליטת החברה האנושית היינו, כי בני מחנות הריכוז, שבויי גדרות התייל, משוללי צלם האדם היינו. כחיה נרדפת הסתתרנו שנים על שנים ביערות בחורים ובסדקים..." (מתוך מגילת היסוד).
The YomTov of Kabbolas HaTorah is a busy time for Ayelet HaShachar, as it puts in a special effort in its mission to bring Torah through the length and breadth of the country. Baruch Hashem, Ayelet HaShachar was able to have an impact in 52 locations, sponsoring learning, bringing yeshiva students to yishuvim, and spreading much joy and warmth. In particular, Ayelet HaShachar concentrated on bringing Torah Learning programs to communities near the Gaza and Lebanon borders, where tensions are high, particularly with the current escalation between Iran (and its Hezbollah and Hamas proxies), and Israel and the United States. Having a strong and vibrant connection to Jewish learning and prayer is vital at such times. In addition, Ayelet HaShachar ran pre-Shavuot programs at 23 community and youth centers in the South, introducing the participants to basic Jewish concepts, and the laws of customs of Shavuot and the night of learning.
Ikar HaDin Hotline
An important new venture of Ayelet HaShachar has seen tremendous interest in the past few months. When people who are either completely new to Jewish practice, or are chozrim bTshuva who have complicated family, work, and life situation, have a need to ask for Halachic guidance, they need a posek who understand them and their background and environment and fashions a response that is appropriate for them, that might be different than the answer that would be given to a person who has always been religious. The Ikar HaDin Hotline has been established by Ayelet HaShachar to address this need. It has been wildly successful, thousand of questions have been pouring in via telephone, email and regular mail from people desperately seeking wise guidance. “How can I invite my brother for Shabbat if he will drive?” “If we only wait one hour before eating dairy after meat, can our guests follow our custom?” “If I stay up on Shavuot and learn Torah all night, will I receive the blessing promised by the Ari Hakadosh even if I drive to get there?” are samples of some recent questions. This vital service has received wide praise for answering a crying need.
Principal Administrator conferences
We have written in previous months about the wonderful initiative of Ayelet HaShachar in which principals and teachers of secular and Haredi schools come together to compare note, learn from and about each other, share good ideas to help their students learn. In the coming month four more groups of these paired principals and teachers will kick off, meeting for four weekly days of intensive workshops and study and sharing. These groups have been very successful in garnering openness, respect and study in the past; it is great to see the program expanding.
The community of Rosh Hanikra, a beautiful coastal town near the Lebanon border has asked Ayelet HaShachar to bring a religious family to live in their community to help those seeking to learn more about Jewish traditions and learning. We are actively seeking a family who would be interested in joining us in this exciting venture.
Another community that is now forming an Ayelet HaShachar outpost is Kibbutz Bet Kama in the Negev Desert, started by HaShomer HaTzair as a secular entity north of the largest Bedouin city in Israel, Rahat. Successful out reach in this remote location by Ayelet HaShachar is making the desert bloom with the beauty of Torah!
A long-standing project that has recently kicked into high gear is the physical and spiritual renovation of once-vibrant shuls that have long stood dormant and barely used for years in many communities in Israel. Groups comprised of religious and secular volunteers have come together and done wonderful work in restoring these buildings, pouring much money and love into these projects under the aegis of Ayelet HaShachar’s Igud Batei Knesset division. Three shuls that should be ready for use in Elul are in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Akko.
Modi’in Continues Explosive Growth
One of the crown jewels of Ayelet HaShachar, the shul we have built in Modi’in continues to be a busy beehive of activity, where, learning, partnerships, lectures and tefilla constantly go on in with record crowds in attendance. On Shavuos night the shul was bursting with activity, with groups of English, French, and Russian speakers learning alongside the many Israelis who have come to see the shul as a vital community resource. The shul very much needs financial help to continue and expand its activities, dedication opportunities are available to those who will have the good will to partner with us in growing this important beacon of light in a very secular city.
We wish Rav Shlomo Ra’anan well on his upcoming ten day trip to Brazil, where he intends to meet with community leaders and Rabbonim and share the amazing story of Ayelet HaShachar. We wish him much success on this journey
Kibbutz Sdot Yam
Mazal Tov to the Pilus family, Ayelet HaShachar representatives who have been doing wonderful work in Kibbutz Sdot Yam, a seaside kibbutz just south of Caesarea, founded originally by Ben Gurion to help smuggle in immigrants during the Mandatory period. The Pilus family have developed religious life in this picturesque place, and they are now ready to host a Hachnosas Sefer Torah in s ahul that will be regularly used, provided by Ayelet HaShachar. What a wonderful opportunity to grow Torah in such a beautiful location!
Harvesting Wheat at Ein Charod
Earlier this year , Ayelet HaShachar had the great privilege of establishing a Mehadrin Hand Matzah factory in this bastion of secularism, a symbol to all Israelis of the most radical anti-religious elements of the HaShomer HaTzair movement. The effort met with so much success – providing special Matzah to the surrounding areas and to border towns in Gaza while providing education and Jewish connection from many groups who visited – that the kibbutz is expanding the program for next year. , Ayelet HaShachar representatives have just completed harvesting wheat which will be carefully stored for the Matzah baking nest Pesach . . . L’Shana Haba’ah B’Ein Charod HaKdoshah!