Av 5759

Prime Minister & Defense Minister
Ehud Barak
The Knesset

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

Shalom Aleichem! Congratulations and blessings upon you as you shoulder the responsibilities of leadership of the State of Israel.

As our contribution to the State of Israel's 50th year celebrations, Beged Ivri restored the custom of giving a pure silver Holy Half-Shekel, as commanded us in the book of Exodus 30:11-16.

The Holy Half-Shekel was and is primarily a soldier's Commandment, as you surely know. The term 'kopher' is employed in the scriptures in cases of homicide that do not constitute murder, i.e., in the case of the owner of an ox, that having been duly forewarned, his ox killed someone, the owner is libel for the death but does not pay with his life, he can offer a ransom (kopher) for his soul. Likewise, a soldier, on the day of his/her induction, gives a pure silver Holy Half-Shekel, as an insurance policy for their soul, that lest they come to shed blood during that year of service, their soul is immunized against damage.

From the inception of the restoration of the custom, it has been our intended goal to put a Holy Half-Shekel into the hands of every soldier, every year. To this end we have developed a program called Adopt A Soldier for dissemination abroad, with the goal of raising sufficient funds abroad, annually, to provide every soldier, sadir, kevah, and milluim, annually with a ceremonial pure silver Holy Half-Shekel, which was restored for our generation according to the sources.

Some of the benefits to be accrued by the "Adopt a Soldier" program are;

1) Allows the donor abroad to assume a participatory relationship with Israel and Zahal.

2) Gives both the donor and the recipient a sense of connectedness to the Biblical source of our present military service in the Land of Israel.

3) Provides Agudat L'man Hachayal, or whatever organization is established for this purpose, an additional income of millions of dollars, and a donor base in North America, and eventually, worldwide, donations that will improve the lot of the soldiers and ease the conditions of their service.

4) Imagine the pride of a reserve soldier adding this year's Half-Shekel to his/her collection of Half-Shekels representing his/her years of service. A collection handed down to and supplemented by succeeding generations.

5) The distribution of the Half Shekel to the soldier will also generate a sense that the 'system' cares about him/her and will instill a sense of support and appreciation for their service.

6) Brings together military service with a sense of Holiness - the ultimate goal of integrating the Haredi community into Zahal, and integrating secular society with Jewish ethos.

For this purpose we have assembled a team consisting of Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Ami Navon, serving as legal counsel for the project, Captain (ret.)Dotan Meshullam, to handle all accounting services, Ms. Dikla Tutian as Account Executive, the U.S. firm of Developement Associates Group, Ltd., represented in Israel by Rabbi David Marcus, to manage the campaign in North America, with Beged Ivri supplying the Half-Shekels and overseeing the project.

Being aware of Agudath L'man Hachayal's, and for that matter, Zahal's sense of self image, the spiritual nature of the Adopt A Soldier campaign is suitable and directed only for a foreign market, and will not be associated with Agudath L'man Hachayal's and Zahal's activities in Israel, and will not compete with existing fundraising activities in Israel. From Agudat L'man Hachayal's point of view, it is a totally new source for funds.

We believe that the natural 'partner' for us in this endeavor is Agudat L'man Hachayal, which we have contacted already, and for some unknown reason the project has not come to fruition. Thus our appeal to you.

I am requesting that as Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, that you recommend to Agudat L'man Hachayal that they adopt our program, or give us your support to implement the program independantly, or alternatively we will be happy to meet with any representative of yours in order to present you with a detailed plan and to receive your blessings for this project that we see as having the utmost significance.

Just as King Yoash is known to us today principally because of his restoring the Half-Shekel during his reign, likewise, as leader of the Jewish State, you will be remembered forever for having brought about the official restoration of the custom during your reign.

At a time when you are called upon to part with something so precious to the Jewish People, you can offset the loss - in spiritual terms, by providing the restoration of something as precious to us - the Holy Half-Shekel.

Please find enclosed First Strike Proof Specimens of year 50 & 51 ceremonial Holy Half-Shekels, for distribution to the soldiers of Zahal.

G-d Bless,

Reuven Prager
Beged Ivri