The most recent correspondence

43rd Day of the Omer 
Yom Yerushalayim 
28 Iyar 5757 (3/6/97) 

Ms. Susan Denishensky 
Executive Director 
Jewish Community Council of Victoria 
306 Hawthorne Road 
South Caulfield, VIC 3162 

RE: Restoration of the Holy Half-Shekel.

Dear Ms. Denishensky, 

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: 

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. 

Production of the first indepently motifed ceremonial Half-Shekel in 1927 years began on Purim 5757, in Jerusalem. Distribution begins, G-d willing, on Shavuoth and will continue until Rosh Chodesh Adar 5758, when work will begin on the following year's coins. 

In the Diaspora, the coins will be sold through participating existing Jewish Institutions worldwide. Brink's will handle the safe transportation of the Hekdesh coming back to Jerusalem. All the details can be obtained on our website. 

We are developing special cards that will be distributed to the school children at the beginning of the school year, like those used by the JNF for tree planting, that the kids can fill up and turn in to their teachers to receive a Half-Shekel to give on Purim. 

I am turning to you to enlist the many Jewish institutions represented by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria 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 aparticipatory 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 Jewish Community Council of Victoria 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 Victoria can check in to see what participating institution is closest to their home.  Can you provide me with a potential list of all affiliated Jewish institutions which could be utilized as points of sale and collection. 

Thank you in advance. 

G-d Bless, 

Reuven Prager 
Beged Ivri 


    Mr. David Bar Ilan, Prime Minister's Office 
    Mr. Moshe Klirs, IGCMC 
    Mr. Michael Kahanov, Brink's 

16 June 1997

Mr. R. Prager
PO Box 28052
Jerusalem Israel

Dear Mr. Prager,

Thank you for your letter of 3 June 1997. In regard to your current project of restoring the ancient custom of giving a pure silver Holy Half-Shekel to Jerusalem on Purim, coinciding with the fiftieth year celebrations in 1998, I am enclosing a copy of the 1997 JCCV Directory/Diary which lists all the organisations in Victoria.

One of the organisations that may be able to assist you is the Zionist Federation office which is at the same address as
ourselves, and the contact person is the Executive Director, Mrs. Haya Mond.

By reading the Directory/Diary, it will help you to decide which Jewish organisations could possibly be utilised as points of sale in order for you to proceed with your database.

Wishing you every success in your endeavors.

Warm regards,

Helen Brustman
Communal Affairs Director

Dear Ms Brustman, 

Thank you for your prompt attention and wonderful directory. I will contact Mrs. Mond as you suggested. 

What are the chances of raising the idea at your monthly Plenum rather than us reaching out to those same organisations 
individually? It would save weeks of work, and allow for streamlined distribution. Any chance? 

G-d Bless, 


RESPONSE BY THE JCC OF VICTORIA (received 2nd July, 1997)
26th June 1997 

Mr. R. Prager 
PO Box 28052 
Jerusalem, Israel 

Dear Reuven, 

I am in receipt of your email, for which I thank you. We can raise the matter of the Holy Half-Shekel at the monthly Plenum meeting, but I would be grateful to have some information or brochure to give to the delegates and where they could purchase the Holy Half-Shekel. 

I suggest, that after you have contacted Mrs. Haya Mond, you let me know what you would like publicised to the members of our community and how they can order the Holy Half-Shekel. 

Warm regards, 

Helen Brustman 
Communal Affairs Director

27 Sivan 5757 (July 2, 1997) 

Ms. Helen Brustman 
Communal Affairs Director 
JCC of Victoria 
306 Hawthorn Road 
Caulfield South, VIC. 3162 

Dear Ms. Brustman, 

Shalom. Thank you for your immediate attention and inspiring positive energy. Only if the rest of the Jewish World was served by people like you, we would be so much the richer. 

If you have access to the Internet, I would download "The Restored Holy Half-Shekel" and the "Coin Description" files, and pass them out to each delegate. If you don't have Internet access please email me and I will immediately send you hardcopy of all the relevant information. 

The ceremonial coins can already be purchased through the Internet at our  website; What we want to establish are local points of sale/collection to serve the Jews of Victoria. 

I contacted Mrs. Mond as you suggested, and offered her to be coordinator for your area. We are eagerly awaitng her response. Perhaps a phone call from you might produce ever more positive responses in others. 

Please let me know if you need the printouts. 

G-d Bless, 

Beged Ivri

Back to the Beged Ivri home page.