Ayelet Hashachar had the special privilege of inaugurating a new synagogue during Chol HaMoed at Kibbutz Sufa, which is very close to the border with Gaza. The synagogue serves kibbutz members, soldiers from the nearby base, and students of the pre-military preparatory school that is housed on the kibbutz. Since its inception, there have been minyanim and classes every week, and it is serving as a steady beacon of light for the entire area. Our thanks to our friend Moshe Malick of Lawrence New York for their sponsorship of this project.
On Rosh Chodesh Heshvan there was tremendous excitement as we inaugurated a new synagogue at the Kibbutz Meggido, adjacent to the ancient city of Megiddo; a vitally important crossroads for the entire Middle East. The media took a particular interest in this event, and it was the talk of the entire Jezreel valley, as Kibbutz Megiddo was known as a stronghold of the militantly secular HaShomer HaTzair movement. It was amazing to see them open their arms and hearts to having a shul in their midst.
Other Kibbutzim in Progress
Work continues on synagogues in the following kibbutzim: Givat HaShlosha; Negba; Beit Kama. These synagogues are on track to be opened during the Spring of 2020.
Holiday activity: The High Holidays
Shofar blasts and the sweet sounds of the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayers were heard once again throughout the land. Hundreds of Ayelet HaShachar volunteers filled and staffed the many community centers, synagogues, and tents specially built for the holidays.
This year the numbers of “our family” synagogues have grown by about 15%. Many bonds were formed, classes and Torah sessions were delivered, as hundreds of Learn by Phone participants signed up to be part of the experience.
This year an unusual amount of inquiries made regarding Simchat Torah, inquiring how Ayelet HaShachar could help to enrich the local experiences. Armies of Yeshiva students went out with our help to sing, dance, inspire, and befriend their fellow Jews throughout the country. Even in communities where Kol Nidre remained unheard, Jews came together to delight in the singing of “Ashorer Shira” and other traditional favorites in honor of the Torah.
National Mezuzah Day
In the run-up to Rosh HaShana, Ayelet HaShachar introduced a beautiful new national initiative with great success. In the course of one day, Sofrim and volunteers deployed all over the country, offering the public an opportunity to inspect all of their mezuzot and provide assistance in proper placement of their mezuzot. Nearly 200 kibbutzim and moshavim took part in the fantastic project, in which over a thousand people, women, men, and children, arrived at the advertised locations with their mezuzot, excited to be able to see and ensure that they were kosher. We witnessed amazing scenes of excitement as people saw the sacred content of their mezuzot for the first time. We also saw the disappointment when non-kosher, or even empty mezuzah covers were discovered, which was tempered by the opportunity to correct the problem of which they had been unaware. We also were able to help many acquire and place mezuzot in their houses for the very first time.
To kick off the event, a special conference was held at the offices of the Chief Rabbinate. Chief Rabbi David Lau שליט"א opened the events of the Mezuzah Day with his blessings and guidance for writers and volunteers who contributed to the operation. At Ayelet HaShachar we have already reserved the 22nd of Elul in our calendar as an annual event for the coming years – the National Mezuzah Day.
Public Meetings between Rav Ra’anan and Secular Intellectuals
During the month of Elul, public discourses and seminars were held in various kibbutzim and other secular strongholds on topics related to spiritual matters and current events. At several of these meetings, Rav Shlomo Ra'anan was invited to speak and to present the Torah perspective. These meetings took place at the following kibbutzim: Ga’ash, Mishmar haemek, Gan Shmuel and Modi'in.
Conferences between Religious and Secular Educators
For the past two years, Ayelet HaShachar has sponsored a special and unique program in which top-flight educators in the Chareidi and Secular systems have met regularly, shared problems, ideas, and solutions, and engaged in a spirit of true partnership. In the last month, this program concluded, after many hours of developing relationships that will continue on beyond the program. It represents another meaningful long-term step that has created discourse and acquaintance and serves to connect between disparate sections of the people.
B’Shvil HaLev - "For the Heart" centers
We recently marked the completion of a fruitful and challenging year of activity, in which community centers in the South have offered activities to enhance Jewish knowledge and identity to many diverse audiences. Entitled “Connecting and Strengthening Jewish Identity”, we merited to have a great deal of satisfaction as we saw the participation of tens of thousands of residents in heart-warming activities. We look forward to moving this program to an even greater level of success as we continue this work into the future.
Our Hearts Are with Our Brothers in The South
Once again, the southern communities have been the target of deadly rocket barrages, which present challenges to our regular activities at the B’Shvil HaLev centers, making it difficult to conduct our regular youth and adult activities. In some places, we were ordered by the IDF to curtail our activities, due to the danger of venturing outside. In other instances, activities could only continue where a properly protected space for the participants could be provided.
We call upon our friends to help strengthen the spirits of our activists and their communities who continue their holy work in the line of fire. From here, we strengthen the traditional families of the Ayelet Dawn activists who were on the line of fire this week. The Peretz family in Nir Akiva, the Edri family of Mavki’im, the Simatov family in Hatzav (where 12 missiles landed!). In particular, we salute Mrs. Tammy Lipshitz of Ashdod, B’Shvil HaLev coordinator, in whose yard a rocket landed and tragically killed Rav Pinchas Menachem Pashevzman הי"ד. We yearn for days of quiet and peace when they will be able to continue their Torah activities without interference.
The Beit Midrash and the synagogue of the Ayelet Hashachar community in Modi'in
In the last year, we have merited to see the spectacular growth and splendor of the central Beit Midrash of Ayelet Hashachar in Modi'in. We are looking forward with excitement to merit seeing the inauguration of the synagogue and Kollel on Hanukkah.