Sunday, August 14, 2005

Shleimus Haaretz Symposium in Bklyn Hghts

חדשות חב"ד

Shleimus Haaretz Symposium in Bklyn Hghts

(Report by Aliza Karp)
Thursday evening, in the Bnai Avraham Congregation in Brooklyn Heights, there was a Shlaimos HaAretz – Pikuach Nefesh Symposium, featuring Rabbi Effie Biran of the Northern Shomron. The Shul was packed and so was the hallway.  The program began with Rabbi Raskin, guiding children in responsive recitation of the 12 Posukim, just as his grandfather, Rabbi J.J. Hecht would do at the rallies in 770.

Rabbi Biran is currently traveling around North American raising awareness of the situation in the Northern Shomron, encouraging people to join the residents of the Northern Shomron in preventing the deportation and to raise funds so that the resistance movement can operate. Although the disengagement/deportation plan is scheduled to begin this week in Gush Katif – may this evil decree be annulled immediately – the Northern Shomron deportation is scheduled for a few weeks from now. Biran plans ! to be back inside the Northern Shomron at that time IYH.
(Continued in full article)

Biran explained the risks involved in taking the Jews out of the Northern Shomron, G–d forbid. He had a map of the area and showed the triangular area formed between Shechem, Tulkarem and Jenin, all known nests of terror. If the Jews would no longer be in the area, no longer monitoring the roads, these terrorist centers would have freedom to expand and thrive. This area is larger than the area of Gush Katif. It is in the heart of the nation. From the hills of the Shomron, one can see and control the lowlands below, which contain the population centers of Jews along the coast the Mediterranean. Taking the Jews out of this area is a great danger to the entire Jewish population in Eretz Yisroel.

Biran is part of the group who recently established a Chabad yeshiva in Sanur, one of the towns threatened with deportation. “The welcome the community gave us was
amazing,” he said. “The people get a lot of encouragement whe! n they see our yeshiva bochurim.”

In addition to the regular activities in a Chabad yeshiva, including Mivtzaim, the bochurim are preparing what they will do if the army really does come to move them out. The deterrence they are planning will be non-violent, but at the same time effective.

Biran said the new yeshiva needs funds for food and operating expenses, just like other yeshivos. Additionally, they also need tents, generators, flashlights, camping
equipment, fuel, water and dried food. In order to carry out a plan on day of deportation they will need two four-by-four vehicles. They are currently finishing a men’s Mikveh, which requires $2,000.

Rabbi Biran works closely with Rabbi Uriel Gurfinkel who has been an active Shliach in this area for years, and who was previously instrumental in saving Sanur from disappearing at a time when previous residents had moved away.

Despite the current dire circumstances, Rabbi Biran is very optimis! tic. He is sure that just as Hashem split the sea for Nachshon! ben Ami nadav, so do we have to keep walking straight into the water without loosing faith and Hashem will make the miracle which will save us. 

Joining the event shortly after landing in NY from Eretz Yisroel, the recently released Administration Detainee, Saadia Hershkop made a surprise appearance and received a hearty applause as he took the stage to tell of his experiences.

While a rabbinical student in yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel and having completed one level of ordination in Kashrus, this thin, lanky boy with peyos behind his ears, who just turned 18, fascinated the audience as he recounted his tale of prisoner of conscience and prisoner in Zion. In many ways Saadia is a refusnik. He refuses to accept the fact that Jews should be forced to disconnect from their homeland and from the homes of their heritage.

Saadia told of the many stories of his participation in non-violent protests against the disengagement, and his equally many encounters with the p! olice, in which he was approached with enticements to become an informant for the Shabak, Jewish department, in no uncertain terms. “We can arrange for you to go to Gush Katif,” they told Saadia. “We will even take you there.”

“What made you change your mind?” asked Saadia.

“We’ll take good care of you and you will take good care of us,” they answered.

“No way,” said Saadia. “I will never participate in a scheme that will ultimately bring about spilling Jewish blood G-d forbid.” Saadia told his interrogators “Take off your uniform, turn in your badge and get out of this dirty business.” He got one of the officers to put on Tefilin.

Saadia was arrested Sunday at the Kfar Chabad Yeshiva by the secret police. He was not charged with any crime or wrongdoing. He was placed in administrative detention
due to suspicion that he would harm the disengagement. Saadia was in the same jail as the notorious arch terrorist Marwan Barghutti.

After a! few days in jail, Saadia was given the choice of returning to! his hom e in Crown Heights, New York, or to sit out the summer in jail. He decided to take the advice of his lawyers and to honor his worried mother, by returning to the States.

Far from being a Jewish terrorist, Saadia seemed to the crowd as being nothing less than a Jewish hero. “I would have been glad to spend a few months in jail because it energizes the kids into being more active in the disengagement. It would have been a Zechus, a privilege. I would have been like our forefathers who had to make sacrifices and sat in jail for the Jewish people while fighting similar evil decrees.”  

Saadia had only been on the ground in New York for a number of hours before he showed up at the gathering and he was already inspiring people to take legal and non-violent action to stop the disengagement. But he did let the people know that no matter how careful one tries to be, the law enforcement agencies can arrest you even when there is no hard – or even soft – eviden! ce worthy of grounds for arrest.

“There are hundreds are children younger than me sitting in jail for virtually nothing,” said Saadia, “just for being at a demonstration. Now these kids cannot be with their families, they cannot do what kids usually do. I am lucky to be an American citizen and to be deported. This is not just a settler’s problem, it is a problem of every single Jew.”

Saadia asked that everything should be done to stop the expulsion of the Jewish people from their homes and their houses given as a reward to the terrorists. Even if it means standing in the hot humid sun and missing hours of work. 

Saadia’s sister Chaya shares her brother's strong feelings, “I feel like people do not care enough,” she said. “You feel it more when it is your own family. And this is how Jews in Eretz Yisroel feel every day.”

As the event drew to a close and people were lingering to discuss their responses to the presentations, Mrs. Edith Bloch ! said, “It is impossible to sit still and do nothing. We all ha! ve to do something. ‘Lo Alecha HaMelacha Ligmor.’ We may not be obligated to finish the task, Hashem will do that, but we have to start it. I am going to start writing to newspapers.”

Elisheva Devorah bas Chava Naomi from London was very moved by hearing Saadia, “Hearing a young boy who arrived today from prison was absolutely mind-blowing. I was very moved and proud to see what strength Yidden can have and what they can accomplish.”

Sara Yusevitch summed up the evening, “It was very important for us to hear. Once we know the seriousness of the situation we will be motivated to do all we can.”

Prior to the program, a reporter from the NY Daily News came to interview Rabbi Biran, together with the spiritual leader of Bnai Avraham, Rabbi Ari Raskin. An article about the event is expected to appear in the NY Daily News, Brooklyn
section, on Monday, IYH.

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