Grapevine: Finally, a family center

Shir Hadash congregation (photo credit: WWW.SHIRHADASH.ORG)
Shir Hadash congregation
(photo credit: WWW.SHIRHADASH.ORG)
A LITTLE under six years ago, Rabbi Ian Pear, who together with his wife, Rachel, founded the Shir Hadash congregation, was hoping to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone for a community center in the German Colony. The invitations had already gone out and the event with Jewish Agency chairmanNatan Sharansky as the guest speaker went ahead as planned, but there was no laying of the cornerstone.
Pear explained that the Jerusalem Municipality, which had donated the land, had instructed him that the stone setting would have to wait because of the concerns of certain neighbors. Pear was disappointed, but on consideration decided that it was a challenge.
“We’re not going to fight the neighbors,” he said at that time. “We’re going to come to the center, find common ground and hug, and create a place that will be a source of pride not only to us but also to our neighbors.”
It never came to that. The neighbors stood their ground, in no small measure due to the fact that the chief donor for the project had more grandiose visions for it than Pear, and unfortunately made public what he perceived the project to be on completion. No community center went up on that site. The land there is still barren, but Pear did not give up on his dream, and found another site.
Just before Passover, he published a notice with a fund-raising diagram.
“As the picture above suggests, Shir Hadash is moving forward with erecting a new family activity center after years of zoning delays. With our building permit finally in place – and nearly 50% of the necessary funds collected – we are set to begin building right after Passover. Estimated time to complete the facility is less than a year – provided of course we continue to successfully raise the remaining funds.”
Pear will travel to the US next month, partially to take the assignment of scholar in residence with Beth Tfiloh in Baltimore, and then continue to Charlotte, North Carolina, and New York hoping to boosting funding for the family activity center/ community center.
Hopefully, neighbors will not put a spoke in his wheel this time.
AMONG THE visitors to Hadassah University Medical Center last week to visit Belz Hassidim Chaim Winternitz and Mendy Farkash was Belgian Ambassador John Cornet d’Elzius.
Although the two are not Belgian citizens, the ambassador considered it his duty to visit them after they were wounded in the bomb explosion at Brussels Airport on March 22 while they were waiting to board a plane to Israel. The two brothers-in-law had flown to Brussels to attend a family wedding. They heard a blast coming from the direction of the American Airlines counter, and instinctively began to run.
Had they not done so, according to Farkash’s mother, they would have been killed.
As it was, they were seriously wounded. They were taken to a Brussels hospital by ambulance, and later transferred to Hadassah University Medical Center in a private plane supplied by Jerusalem-based Rabbi Chaim Mordechai (Motti) Fried, the founder of Saad V’Marpe, an organization that assists the sick and the wounded. The Belgian-born Fried, who has lived in Israel for the past 20 years, flew to Amsterdam the day after the attack and drove from there to Brussels to look for Israelis who had been hurt in the airport and metro terrorist attacks.
Winternitz had 17 pieces of shrapnel in his body. Thankfully, the two Belz Hassidim were able to leave hospital temporarily to celebrate the Seder with their families, but both still require prolonged treatment.
THE ISRAEL branch of the Orthodox Union, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and Gefen Publishing Ltd. have joined forces to present “An Evening of Hope and Strength” at the Begin Center on Sunday, May 8, featuring the remarkable Miriam Peretz, the mother of two fallen soldiers, who has dedicated her life to inspiring others with her story and her love of the land and State of Israel and the Jewish People. She is a woman of faith with an extraordinary positive approach to life and a huge generosity of spirit.
Also appearing on the program are Gabi Ashkenazi, former IDF chief of staff, Herzl Makov, director general of the Begin Heritage Center and Ilan Greenfield, second-generation CEO of Gefen Publishing.
Signed copies of the book Miriam’s Song by Smadar Shir will be available at discount price. Entry fee to the event is NIS 25; places must be registered online at