LETTER TO THE COUNCIL FOR JEWISH FEDERATIONS
|12 Tevet 5757 (December 22,1996)
RE: Restoration of the Holy Half-Shekel.
Dear Mr. Kraar,
Shalom Aleichem. My name is Reuven Prager. My work of the last thirteen years has been to research and restore ancient Israelite customs. My work represents the next generation of religious Zionism, where the emphasis moves from pioneering the Land to pioneering our culture to be in harmony with being on that Land.
I invite you to view my work on the Internet at: israelvisit.co.il/beged-ivri.
Our current project is to restore the ancient custom of giving a pure silver Holy Half-Shekel to Jerusalem, on Purim, to coincide with the fiftieth year celebrations in 1998. A complete archive of the project is available on our website.
The Half-Shekel comes to teach the unaffiliated that they are at least Half a Shekel, and the ultra-religious that they are only Half a Shekel. The rich can not give more and the poor no less. Whether that speaks of material wealth or Mitzvah observance, every Jew's fulfillment of this Mitzvah is equal, whether that person finds him/herself sitting in jail or on the throne of a Chasidic dynasty. There is not even room for an hidur.
The ceremonial coins are to be minted by the Israel Government Coins and Medals Corp. Ltd. and will be sold through participating existing Jewish Institutions worldwide. Brink's will handle the safe transportaton of the coins from and to Jerusalem. All the details can be obtained on our website.
I am turning to you to enlist the many Jewish Federations in North America to serve as regional distribution centers for the participating Jewish Institutions that will serve as points of sale/collection. For a Jew living outside of Eretz Yisrael, this will enable everyone to have a participatory relationship with Jerusalem on an annual basis. It will greatly increase Purim attendance at all your participating institutions, and I can envision school children putting quarters in special cards, like we used to do to plant trees, saving up all year to buy a Half-Shekel to donate on Purim.
At this time, following so many tragedies, so much pain, and so many divisions amongst our people, we could use a real Simcha; one that does not come on the backs of any vanquished. A universal Simcha such as the restoration of the ceremony of giving an Holy Half-Shekel that unites our people and sets everyone on an equal footing. Especially at this time, when we are forced to give up something so precious to our people, it would behoove us to restore something equally as precious to offset the loss.
Can we count on the Council of Jewish Federations to help realize this? I am available to answer any and all questions you may have. I will be in the US later this winter and would welcome meeting you face to face to further discuss this project. In the meantime, we want to establish a database so that anyone, anywhere in the US can check in to see what participating institution is closest to their home. Can you provide me with a potential list of all Jewish Federations which could be utilized as regional distribution centers.
Thank you in advance.
Mr. David Bar Ilan, Prime Minister's Office
RESPONSE FROM COUNCIL OF JEWISH FEDERATIONS
|January 21, 1997
Mr. Reuven Prager
Your letter to Mr. Kraar was referred to me for discussions with our volunteer leadership. We are certain that your project will find appropriate sponsors as all the letters included in your Web Site would indicate.
Unfortunately, the Council of Jewish Federations cannot at this time undertake such a project. Our Federations are a diverse group and we are unable to mandate participation in a project such as yours. Also, we are involved in a major effort to forge a new partnership with the United Jewish Appeal which involves our member Federations and is extraordinarily time consuming.
We wish you great success in your endeavors.
Harold L. Adler
LETTER TO THE COUNCIL FOR JEWISH FEDERATIONS
|3rd night of the Omer
18 Nisan 5757 (4/25/97)
Mr. Harold L. Adler
RE: CJF Participation in The Half-Shekel Project.
Dear Mr. Adler,
Shalom!Thank you for your letter of January 21, 1997. It arrived while I was touring the US promoting the project, and thank G-d, I am able to inform you that we began production of the ceremonial Half-Shekel coins on 14 Adar II, Purim, March 23, 1997. The restoration of the custom of giving the Half-Shekel to Jerusalem on Purim, besides its connection to the 50th year celebrations of the State of Israel, is a project that will include an unprecedented outreach program by all streams of Judaism, to reach our ultimate goal of 100% participation.
What this means for the synagogues and other Jewish Institutions that participate, is a significant increase in your donor base, something very much in line with your needs in the coming years.
All that we would need from you is your endorsement. That's the whole cost to you. I would also like to utilize Federation facilities as regional delivery points for the coins going back to Jerusalem. Although Brink's operates in over 400 cities in the US, it will be more cost efficient for the local synagogues to deliver the shofars full of coins to the Federations and have Brink's pick them up there, then sending them around to every small minyon. We are talking about one day a year, one room, for about eight hours. I'll bet every Federation could swing that. Can we count on your endorsement? In the meantime, would you please send me a comprehensive listing of all Federations affiliated with you.
Awaiting your positive reply.
Mr. Bobby Brown, Prime Minister's Office