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Monday, January 16, 2012

Kiddush Hashem in Bet Shemesh

In light of the recent troubling events and tensions in Beit Shemesh, and the terrible Chillul Hashem that has resulted, Rabbi Yaacov Haber, Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun in RBS-A, invites all concerned parties, men and women, to a town hall meeting.

The meeting is intended to produce constructive and positive strategies to deal with the situation.

Thursday 5th January at 19:00
at Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun (KSY)
Nachal Dolev 2/1 (corner of Dolev and Yarden)

Maariv will follow at 20:30, followed by regular Night Kollel program learning Hilchos Tefillin, at 20.45.

Follow-up blog by David Morris

I had the privilege of attending a “Town Hall Meeting” arranged by Rabbi Yaacov Haber last week, at his Kehilas Shivtei Yeshurun (KSY) shul in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

The rav introduced the event by observing that there had been a huge Chilul Hashem around the world, centered on the recent events in Beit Shemesh.

The purpose of the evening was to have a forum, for all present to float ideas which would (or could) create a Kiddush Hashem.

Rules: one minute on the timer for each speaker; any negativity is forbidden and will be stopped in its tracks. On with the show…!

Out of around a hundred people who attended, over twenty people chose to speak. The attendees were all anglos, and included broad representation of dati leumi and Chareidi people. Men/Women were approximately 50/50. There were also some individuals from Givat Sharett, including those who have been directly involved in the struggle there, such as Dov Krulwich and Daniel Goldman.

In spite of the controversial and highly charged events in recent weeks, I do not recall even a single “negative” remark in the one hour event. The time keeping was rigorously enforced, by the all-smiling MC David Geffen, and so everyone had an opportunity to speak on an equal footing. 

According to the event organizers, the following Kiddush Hashem-Ideas were proposed during the evening:

* Mass Love Your Neighbor Rally (maybe for 100,000 charedim
* Coordinate more closely with the police to arrest and close down trouble makers
* Rabbanim from all the camps meet on a regular basis
* Shul meetings… (maybe a couple of members from each shul)
* Definitive Statement against violence from all the leaders officially posted up on the streets
* Find a symbol (like the orange ribbon for gush katif) to represent “We love all Jews”, that becomes the In-Thing to wear or put on our car etc. (Rabbi Haber would like to buy the T-shirt)
* Invite someone from CNN to see the good side of Beit Shemesh
* In depth academic study of WHY and WHAT can be done
* So that those that want to be separate can be separate, establish areas for re-location
* Keep back tzedaka money for individuals and institutions in BET until Anti-Violence conditions are met.
* Ongoing Dialogue for the leaders
* Vote for a Mayor that can solve the problem
* Produce PR, explanatory and family videos for Youtube etc.
* Different Kehilot meet for kiddushim
* Story books for kids – maybe the adults will learn from them
* Daf Shalom – something like daf yomi that the community does each day for shalom. 
* Large significant delegations visit the Rabbinical leaders
* Nashei Shalom – the women from all the side should meet, strengthen relationships and lay the foundation for genuine achdut
* Organize an immediate response team to violent outbursts
* Anglo Gimmicks such a singing evenings – fun things that bring the communities together
Website for ideas
* Hire a top of the line PR firm to present the good side of Beit Shemesh
* On a personal level to make sure to change our judgmental, distancing, even hateful language that can sometimes unwittingly be used at the Shabbat Table
* Achdut Merchandise in the shops
* When we talk to people, publicize the goodness in RBS BEG e.g. guarding the eyes (love “them” as well)
* Hugging expeditions to various parts of Beit Shemesh, combined with idea 6 to be handed out before the hug J - The 1st expedition leaves from KSY at 11am on Friday Jan 13 ~ 18th Tevet
* A book from Rav Haber

It is true that, in the cold light of day, many of these ideas sound zany; and surely questions will be asked what was in that pipe we were passing round....

Indeed, as I drove away from the KSY shul, in order to do some errands in Beit Shemesh, I passed dozens of RBS Bet residents, crowding around an incident involving a bus, and a large dumpster. I believe protesters had thrown stones at the bus and tried to block the main road with the dumpster.

For a blessed hour, perhaps we had experienced the eerie quiet and peacefulness of the eye of the storm.

I do hope that some of the ideas will spawn practical projects, as the need for “Beit Shemesh” to have positive associations tomorrow, instead of the negative ones today, is a supremely important mission.

However, as Rav Haber said (I paraphrase): if the only thing to come out of this evening, is this evening, and Hashem delights in our efforts to bring about a Kiddush Hashem, then this has been worthwhile.

Please send further ideas and questions to:

The Jewish Unity Song of Beit Shemesh

A turqousie blue (like Heaven) wrist band / car flag/ T-shirt or bumper sticker In Hebrew and English I love my fellow Jew The torah on one foot J.B.

Professional video highlighting the kiddush Hashem of chareidim R.K.

Have different Kehillas invite other Kehillas for kiddishes R.K.

Animated videos explaining certain chareidi positions R.K.

Have a site where we post video stories from charedi families R.K.

A story book for kids talking about different types of religious Jews R.K.

Site for ideas R.K.

Hire top of line PR firm to promote good stuff R.K.

The Daf Shalom- Let the Torah’s light dispel the darkness of machlokes and Chilul Hashem Method: People learning a daily halocha or hashkofa from a common Sefer with the Kavonna for bringing Shalom to our city B.J.

There was once (and maybe still is) a joint neshei from Sheinfeld & Gerrer Chasidim, I think from Bet. The idea should be replicated.  M.T.

Use our united pull as a group to try to get the Eida & other Ashkenazi rabbinic organizations to publicly, unequivocally condemn the violence that has been occurring in Bet. If certain leaders want to but can’t for some reason (just to speculate), pool our resources to pinpoint the problem and find a solution.  M.T.

To Publicize the words of the Netziv in the introductory to his commentary on the torah about the causes of Churban Habayis.  S.W.

To facilitate exposure of the Dati Leumi Rabbis in Charedi Schools and vice versa via shuirim or discussion groups.  S.W.

To create An Ashkenazi Vaad HaRabbaim of RBS A ( to Start)including representative rabbis from all kehillas S.W.

To Create A Sephardi and Yemenite Vaad S.W.

Target the influential people! Find the one, two or three Jewish leaders that we have enough of a relationship to get a real open dialogue (not part of choir) and open a dialogue with them.

Workshops and dialogue groups for children and adults with the aim of discovering the wonderful qualities of all the different groups of Am Yisrael.  C.A.B.

The “אני אוהב את כול יהודי” kippa in the ‘90s.  Half is black velvet and half is kippa srugah, with those words written across.  C.A.B.

I would like to see “us” write a well crafted “open letter” in English and Hebrew to be sent directly to the Rosh of as many hareidi institutions as we can find, with the following points:
1.  We list the types of recent actions that we consider “abhorrent behavior”.
2.  We ask that they join us in publicly denouncing this abhorrent behavior.
3.  We ask that, as this behavior is a chilul Hashem and in most cases is, in any respect, punishable by the Beit Din in Olam Hazeh, that any known miscreant be first warned and then brought before the Beit Din and if convicted, then punished.
4.  We ask that when sending mishulachim to Beit Shemesh, they provide a letter in English and in Hebrew clearly stating their position on this issue.
5.  We inform them that we as a community and as individuals have taken on a decision to no longer give tzedaka, in a shul or at our door, without a valid letter from their Rav.  S.B.

Let’s be mekadesh Shem shomayim by tweeting and retweeting at least one story or link about amazing things we do everyday!!  E.H.

Educate people to search out and notice the positive sides of other people.  L.A.

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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