Eretz HaKodesh Chairman Calls For Freeze of NIS 30 Million Transfer to Reform Movement
The chairman of the Eretz HaKodesh organization, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, called upon the Israeli Supreme Court to place an immediate hold on the transfer of NIS 30 million to the Reform movement.
Rabbi Lerner, on behalf of Eretz HaKodesh, recently filed an urgent petition to the Israeli Supreme Court for an immediate freeze of the transfer of funds to a joint venture of the Ministry of Diaspora and the Panim organization to establish a so-called “Office of Jewish Renewal,” which was approved from coalition funds of the Labor Party.
As readers may recall, several weeks ago, an in-depth investigation was conducted by journalist Kalman Libeskind in the Ma'ariv newspaper, revealing that the procedure for establishing the Office of Jewish Renewal in collaboration with the Panim organization was carried out in an improper manner, raising suspicion of improprieties. Libeskind highlighted the involvement of MK Gilad Kariv in the project, raising serious questions about the approval of the project.
The Ma’ariv investigation enumerated questions surrounding the transfer of NIS 30 million to the Panim organization, of which MK Kariv served as a member, and the fact that the Diaspora Ministry did not hesitate in any way to transfer tens of millions of shekels without a bidding process as required by law, without criteria, to an entity that has no serious financial management or organizational experience.
The establishment of the Office of Jewish Renewal and the budgeting of the project are the implementation of a clause in the coalition agreement that was signed when the Labor faction entered the government. MK Kariv, who previously served as the chairman of the Reform movement in Israel, promoted the introduction of the clause and took an active role in its approval in the state budget for 2022. However, it has emerged that the money was allocated to the Panim organization, in which MK Kariv was involved as an executive committee member. MK Kariv's connections with Panim did not prevent him from dealing with the budget, as illegal as that is.
A few days after the publication of the investigation, Libeskind revealed that even before the Ministry of Diaspora approved the project, the deputy legal counsel to the Ministry of Justice forwarded to the ombudsman of Knesset a statement highlighting the legal difficulty of carrying out the project without governmental approval for the Ministry of Diaspora to proceed. The ombudsman clarified that as the project's budget increases, there is even greater difficulty providing legal basis for the decision.
Following these disturbing findings, a number of Knesset members, along with Rabbi Lerner, appealed to the ombudsman, demanding that the project be frozen. After the ombudsman's response was not forthcoming, Rabbi Lerner, on behalf of Eretz HaKodesh, appealed to the Supreme Court, asking for a freeze on the project and for there to be an emergency session to examine the disturbing revelations related to this project.
Rabbi Lerner’s petition explains the concern over the attempt to distribute public coalition funds, in the tens of millions of shekel, transferring them in a circular way to a private association that is connected to a Knesset member, who actually dictated the distribution of said funds.
This is corrupt, dishonest, and contrary to the law, averred Rabbi Lerner.
Rabbi Lerner further stated in the explanatory notes of his petition that Eretz HaKodesh, as an international movement that works to strengthen the Jewish identity of Jews around the world, considers itself a worthy candidate to participate in activities that are carried out in the field of Jewish renewal, including the activities that fall under the umbrella of the Office of Jewish Renewal established by the Ministry of Diaspora and the Panim organization.
“In light of all this,” concluded Rabbi Lerner, “we are asking for an immediate freezing of the transfer of funds."
As of this moment, the Israeli Supreme Court has given those involved in the transfer of those funds, ten days to respond to the complaint.
Eretz HaKodesh Provides Resources
to Summer Camps
This past summer, Eretz HaKodesh provided Israeli and American camps in Eretz Yisroel with various activities, including popular “clicker” games that taught the campers about the Holy Land,
The campers participated in Eretz HaKodesh sponsored trips and games that enhanced their knowledge of Eretz Yisroel.
Among the camps that participated in the activities was Todaah, the renowned operation led by famed educator Rabbi Mordechai Blau; the Adirim camp for children from Anglo-Saxon families; as well as camps in Beit Shemesh, Beitar Illit, and elsewhere.
Eretz HaKodesh Presents Uplifting Bein Hazmanim Kumzitz For Bochurim
During the recent summer bein hazmanim, Eretz HaKodesh presented an uplifting, inspiring event for yeshiva bochurim, specifically the 1,000 talmidim of Yeshiva Nesivos Chochmah, led by Rav Doniel Wolfson.
The event was funded by KKL, thanks to the coordination of Eretz HaKodesh.
A day before the event, however, tragedy struck when one of the talmidim of the yeshiva, Mordechai Schlesinger z”l, a talmid in the yeshiva’s Shiur Bais, drowned in the Kinneret. The hanhalah and talmidim of the yeshiva were devastated. Mordechai was a beloved friend to so many and a growing, budding ben Torah.
The questioned was presented: Should the bein hazmanim event that was planned for the very next day be held or cancelled?
After consulting with Gedolei Yisroel, it was decided to go ahead with the event a few days later, but with divrei zikaron and hisorerus delivered by the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Wolfson, and the musical portion of the event comprised of shirei regesh, heartwarming, uplifting songs.
Following emotional, hisorerus-filled words from Rav Wolfson, zemiros were sung by Zanvil Weinberger, Naftali Kempeh, Avrohom Berenholtz, and Refoel Malul, accompanied by the Malchus Choir. The beautiful songs filled the large auditorium, leaving the bochurim infused with inspiration and chizuk, while paying tribute to their dear chaver, Mordechai z”l.
Eretz HaKodesh Sponsors Siyum
For Graduating Rabbinic
Rabbi Shlomo Kassin's Kollel Hamedrash HaSephardi in the Old City of Yerushalayim trains rabbonim, who are sent to Jewish communities across the globe, to serve in various capacities.
With the recent round of training of rabbonim having come to a close, a special siyum celebration was held, sponsored by Eretz HaKodesh at Aish Hatorah, across from the Kosel. The event featured the participation of the country’s chief rabbis, rabbonim, members of Knesset, and other dignitaries.
Eretz HaKodesh commended these newly-trained rabbonim, who are thrilled and eager to be able to travel to various communities in the Diaspora to serve there for the benefit of Klal Yisroel
Eretz HaKodesh Gives Jewish Agency Representative
Tour of Chariedi Camps
During this past summer, Mr. Gal Atia, who coordinates Jewish Agency for Israel shluchim in camps across America, was given a glimpse of a different world of camping to which he had never been exposed. Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Rabbi Aaron Fink from Eretz HaKodesh took Mr. Atia on a tour of chareidi day camps and over night camps in New York and New Jersey, visiting these beautiful facilities and getting a firsthand look at the summer camping system that serves tens of thousands of chareidi youth.
Mr. Atia was very impressed by what he witnessed, impressed by the size, scope and diversity of the summer camps serving the chareidi public in the tri-state area.
Thousands Participate in Bein Hazmanim Shmittah Education Outing Arranged by Eretz HaKodesh
Thousands of children from chareidi cities across Eretz Yisroel participated during summer bein hazmanim in a special event that took place in the forests belonging to Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael (KKL), thanks to the initiative of Eretz HaKodesh.
The events were able to occur because this is the first time in history that KKL is observing the laws of Shmittah on all the lands under its jurisdiction.
In keeping with these halachos, all the trees on these
lands are harvested and the fruits are distributed for free to the public.
As part of this observance of the mitzvos of Shmittah, KKL held events in the carob fields that
it owns as part of the Otzar Bais Din arrangement under the direction of Rav Yosef Efrati. The
children were given the opportunity to pick the carobs from the trees, and the carobs were then transported to a factory that will make carob cream from them to be distributed free to the community
Special complexes were set up in the KKL forests in the Letron and Ben Shemen areas, with
inflatable rides and various attractions and games for the children, in addition to a pita baking
station, a photo booth with souvenir magnets, and much more.
All the children participated in a comprehensive agricultural training from bnei Torah
instructors, who taught them about the agricultural work in KKL’s forests and the observance
of the mitzvos of Shmittah according to halacha. After that, they enjoyed a fascinating virtual
reality presentation prepared by members of Rav Efrati’s Bais Medrash about the halachos of
The multi-day event at numerous locations saw thousands of children and their parents arrive on dozens of buses from
Yerushalayim, Beit Shemesh, Beitar Illit, Bnei Brak, Elad, Rechasim, Telz-Stone, and elsewhere.
The children participated in picking and gathering the carobs and then in the exciting activities
and attractions arranged by the KKL Education Division.
"With siyata diShmaya, we were able to arrange activities with great educational value, as
children learned hands-on, in the field, how to observe the mitzvah of Shmittah and to be careful
to ensure that all work is done strictly according to halacha,” remarked Rabbi Shmuel Litov,
deputy chairman of KKL, on behalf of Eretz HaKodesh. “In addition to learning about the
mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz, the entire family was treated to a day of fun and relaxation.”
In a letter of gratitude sent by Beitar Illit Deputy Mayor Rabbi Dodi Saltz to the chairman of
Eretz HaKodesh, he described the significance of the free event for the families of the avreichim
of his city. "We were fortunate that many families from the city of Beitar took part in this bein
hazmanim educational attraction. Youngsters saw with their own eyes the significance of
observing the mitzvos of Shmittah in the field, understanding for the first time the importance of
strictly observing these halachos. This is not to mention the fun-filled day they experienced in
the forest complex.”
“An added value of this event for the residents of Beitar,” wrote Rabbi Saltz, “is that most of the
families who participated are those of avreichim, who cannot afford expensive trips and outings.
Most of these families do not own a car and live a modest lifestyle. The possibility for them to
participate in such an event without any financial cost and with free transportation made it extra
special and greatly appreciated.”