Last week, Kibbutz Geva in northern Israel celebrated its 89th anniversary. In honor of the occasion, the Ayelet HaShachar organization placed a Torah scroll in the brand new Aron Kodesh it has brought into the kibbutz.
During the last four years, Ayelet HaShachar has been conducting Yom Kippur and Purim prayers in Kibbutz Geva, as it has done in about 90 other communities across Israel. Both members of the organization as well as members of the various communities involved, have said that all activities are conducted with a positive spirit rather than with coercion and that the connection of community members to Judaism is getting stronger, thanks to the prayers and the events which are taking place.
The members of Kibbutz Geva responded with great excitement to the placing of the Torah scroll in their kibbutz. Some were talking about the victory they felt they being descendants of Holocaust victims and some wished to thank the organizers for bringing “unique joy and a sense of transcendence spirit” to the Kibbutz.
“I see in this evening a sort of landmark in Geva,” said Geva secretary Hayak Porat. “For years we haven’t dealt with this issue and I welcome the new Torah scroll in our kibbutz.”
Rabbi Shlomo Raanan, Director of the Ayelet HaShachar organization said: “This is a Torah scroll which was used by a community for a certain period of time and now they’ve decided that the dignity of the scroll would grow and expand if it is taken to the Land of Israel, to the land in which we live thanks to the Torah.”
“Even though we are a secular community and I assume that tomorrow we won’t become a branch of Bnei Brak or a part of Mea She’arim – that is not our intention –a bit of Judaism, and this as an understatement, will not hurt us,” added Porat. “It doesn’t hurt us, it doesn’t hurt our children who witness this. After all, in the end our enemies do not distinguish between secular and religious. We are all one people in the end, and even if our opinions are different and our procedures are different and our customs are different, we come from one place.”