LETTER TO THE COUNCIL OF JEWISH FEDERATIONS - CANADIAN OFFICE
|23 Tevet 5757 (1/2/97)
Mr. Bert Abugov
RE: Restoration of the Holy Half-Shekel.
Dear Mr. Abugov,
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 transportation 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 institutions represented by the Federations in Canada to serve as points of sale and collection of the Holy Half-Shekel. 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 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-Canadian Office to help realize this? I am available to answer any and all questions you may have. In the meantime, we want to establish a database so that anyone, anywhere in Australia can check in to see what participating institution is closest to their home. Can you provide me with a potential list of all Jewish Institutions which could be utilized as points of sale and collection.
Thank you in advance.
Mr. David Bar Ilan, Prime Minister's Office
RESPONSE OF THE COUNCIL OF JEWISH FEDERATIONS OF CANADA
|January 20, 1997
We are in receipt of your letter to Dr. Bert Abugov, the former Director of CJF in Canada.
While we do not have the resources to help with the project per se, we are enclosing a list of the Canadian Jewish Federations. They may be able to assist on a local level.
Best wishes with this project.
LETTER TO THE COUNCIL OF JEWISH FEDERATIONS OF CANADA
22 Nisan 5757 (4/29/97)
Mr. Sheldon Maerov
Shalom! Thank you for your letter of January 20, 1997, and the enclosed list of Jewish Federations, Welfare Funds and Community Councils of Canada. 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?
Awaiting your positive reply.
Mr. Bobby Brown, Prime Minister's Office