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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Georgia, Russia and Bnei Brak

From my research it seems this story is verified and true. This is an article in this mornings Jerusalem Post.

Aug 12, 2008 16:57 | Updated Aug 13, 2008 1:22
Georgia’s PM asks for rabbi’s blessing
By MATTHEW WAGNER

Georgian Prime Minister Vladimer (Lado) Gurgenidze made a special call to Israel Tuesday morning to receive a blessing from one of the haredi community’s most important rabbis and spiritual leaders, Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman.

The nonagenarian rabbi from Bnei Brak, known as the father of the yeshiva world, acquiesced to Gurgenidze’s request and blessed the Jewish community of Georgia “and all who live in that place.”

According to Steinman’s followers, shortly after the rabbi uttered the blessing Russia announced a cease-fire with war-torn Georgia.

During Tuesday’s morning prayers, Rabbi Shimon Bruk, the chairman of the Israel branch of The Council for Saving Lost Jews (Hava’ad L’hatzalat Nidchei Yisrael), a haredi organization that builds educational institutions in Eastern Europe, received a phone call from Georgia.

“I was in the middle of my prayers so all I could do was grunt into the phone,” recalled Bruk.

“Shortly after I finished praying the amida my phone rang again. ‘This is Prime Minister of Georgia Vladimer Gurgenidze speaking. You brought me a letter from a man named Stumen [sic]. Is he still alive? I’ve heard that he is a holy man. I want him to pray for us and our state.’”

Bruk said he had met with Steinman around noon on Tuesday and presented Gurgenidze’s request to the rabbi.

“There were a lot of raised eyebrows when shortly after Rabbi Steinman made the blessing, we heard about the cease-fire,” recalled Bruk.

Bruk had met with Georgia’s prime minister in March to thank him for his support for Jewish educational institutions built in Georgia by the council. During the meeting Bruk presented Gurgenidze with a letter from Steinman in which the rabbi referred to the Georgian government as a “regime of loving-kindness.”

Steinman’s letter is reportedly hanging on the wall of Gurgenidze’s office.

The council has been operating in Eastern Europe since before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

In Tbilisi, Georgia, the council runs a nursery school, two grade schools, a yeshiva for boys and a high school for girls. Many of Tbilisi’s Jewish educators and rabbis, including Chief Rabbi of Georgia Ariel Levine, are products of the local educational institutions.

... and from YNET: “You can’t ignore the fact that during the precise moments in which the meeting took place at Rabbi Shteinman’s house, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced a ceasefire,” the Vaad’s public relations representative, Betzalel Kahan, told Ynet.

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Meet Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov HaberRabbi Haber has been a leading force in Jewish Outreach for the past 25 years. A founding trustee of AJOP, the Association of Jewish Outreach Professionals, he was the founder and director of the Torah Center of Buffalo from 1980-1990 while serving as a community rabbi in Buffalo. From Buffalo he and his family traveled to Melbourne, Australia where as a project of Kollel Bais HaTalmud he founded the Australian Institute of Torah, a national outreach and adult education program. He directed that program from 1990-1995, at which time he was sought out as National Director of Jewish Education for the Orthodox Union in the United States where he created the Internationally acclaimed and highly successful "Pardes Project."

In addition to his duties at the OU, in 1996 he replaced Rabbi Berel Wein as the spiritual leader of Congregation Bais Torah in Monsey, NY. In keeping with the position of Congregation Bais Torah in the Monsey community, Rabbi Haber was involved in issues involving the greater Monsey community, and counseled hundreds of individuals in the surrounding area.

Rabbi Yaacov Haber is the founder and driving force behind TorahLab. Through TorahLab, Rabbi Haber is bringing together educational and media specialists to create dynamic learning experiences which will be accessible to adults of all backgrounds and levels. Rabbi Haber has published numerous articles and books and is a sought after international lecturer.

Rabbi Haber and his family are presently living in Ramat Beit Shemesh where he is the Rabbi of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted at yhaber@torahlab.org