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Monday, April 19, 2004

A tribute to a true Kumahite

"What we need to have in Israel today is not criticism of Gush Emunim what we need is JEWS! YOU! That's what we need! " -- Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu (Simon) Dolgin ZT'L in 1981

My very first blog and it's a sad one. Rabbi Dolgin of Ramat Eshkol passed away last night. He was a tremendous advocate for Aliyah and a true Bonah Yerushalayim , and he even had philosophical discussions about religion with Ben-Gurion.

But I don't mean for my first blog to be an obituary. Arutz-7 posted a brief one.

I would like instead to share a story about him as told to me by my grandfather who was his friend. After making Aliyah from Beverly Hills (a lesson for all comfortable Jews on its own) Rabbi Dolgin tried to get permission from the city to build a Beit HaKnesset in Ramat Eshkol, Jerusalem. Teddy Kolleck was the mayor at the time. Mayor Kolleck made things hard for the Rabbi as he wanted Ramat Eshkol to remain a totally non-dati neighborhood. After all was said and done he was only permitted to built his Congregation down a hill, way off the main road "Rachov Paran." Most people expected it would never survive down there. (The spot Rabbi Dolgin wanted became a Kupat Cholim instead.) Unfazed by all these hurtles he raised funds and built a large beautiful Beit HaKnesset , which was named after his old Beverly Hills one "Beit Yaakov." Afterwards, some S'fardic Jews who loved the Synagogue asked him if they can build one too- exactly the same building, that is - so he gladly shared the building plans. (I still find that amazing!) And today there are two beautiful identical Synagogues side by side: Ashkinaz and S'fardic, while preserving their respective traditions, together they stand in total Achdus.

The basement has became a mini - catering hall and because our friend Teddy had them build all the way down the hil,l the backyard leads right into a magnificent garden and park where weddings are held! It's called Calati and you may have been there!

If Rabbi Dolgin gave up because he didn't get the approval he wanted or because he didn't have funding a very special part of Yerushalayim would never have been built! If you're making Aliyah you have to make sure the red tape of the Israeli Government doesn't spoil your plans either! On a similar note the government might have their own ideas of where Jews should be living and praying-- but G-d has his own plans. "Hina Kel Yishuasi Eftach V'Lo Efchad, Ki Azi V'Zimras Kuh Hashem, V'yihe Li Lishuah!"

Rabbi Dolgan summed up the philosophy of Kumah: " Just come. We need Aliyah. We need aliyah in a sense that people will rise themselves. They'll elevate themselves! They'll lift themselves up! They'll grow! They'll be great! They'll be something that is insurmountable to the world and they will become a light to the world!"



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