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Igrot Hare’aya Letter # 46

Looking for a New Council


Beit Din Eretz Hemda - Gazit

Elul 2 5781
Date and Place: Kislev 5667 (1906), Yafo

Recipient: Open letter to Jewish community leaders of Yafo

Body: I find myself obligated to inform you, honored men, that we are presently at a juncture at which we are called upon to do significant work in regard to the situation of our city, which is known as an important city in the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel. Indeed we are respected in our nation, who see our city as the central city of the New Yishuv (the more modern elements of pre-State Palestine, as opposed to the Old Yishuv, which was based in Yerushalayim). People look to us with hope and comfort and desire to see in us impressive Hebrew communal life.

A number of the members of the council of the city (it is not clear to me whether this refers to the Jewish council of the city or a religious council or a council of the shuls) officially informed us that they are resigning from their positions. This news shook me, adding on to my responsibilities the yoke of the work of arranging a new council to run the holy city. Without this, I am already very occupied. Despite this, though, my spirit is encouraged to feel that we are on the threshold of a new future, should our path find favor in Hashem’s eyes.

It is now our obligation, dear brothers, to arrange a general, central council for all the matters of the holy city. It should be a council that is distinguished even in its size, consisting of the strength of upstanding working men. It should be a council that carries the banner of general unity, with it being central in regard to everything that is dealt with at its meetings, which were in a disorganized state until now in our city, especially recently.

The new council should be filled with the ideal of being a unifying force for the communal and general life that extend beyond the boundaries of our city. It should have a strong self-recognition that it is tasked with protecting the holy soil, which gives us life in the broadest manner. I am, with Hashem’s help, adding my hand to the effort to toil and bear the burden (see Bamidbar 4:24) on behalf of our nation and the cities of our G-d (see Shmuel II:10:12).

(This paragraph was probably inserted to stay in the good graces of the Ottoman empire and local authorities who ran the country and city). We will do so with a spirit of trustworthiness to the government, which protects us with honor and good will. The members should treat the government officials, who protect the rights of our brothers who are under their dominion in an ideal manner, in a fair, trustworthy, and respectful manner. We should thank Hashem that all of these impressive forces are always ready to stand by our side, to support us by installing properly straight order concerning social and ethical life in our communities with a positive attitude.

I recommend to you, dear and respected brothers, to set the upcoming Motzaei Shabbat, the fifth night of Chanuka, for preliminary meetings. Every independent shul should choose three representatives and come with written and signed confirmation of their status as proxies. They should be the ones to choose the members of the council. There should be at least twelves representatives, between the Ashkenazim and Sephardim. I would ask that these elected people should come to my house for an assembly to vote on the subsequent Tuesday. All who are chosen by majority to the main council will be, along with the rabbis who will accompany them, the body that bears the banner of peace and unity in our city.

I pray to He who chooses the Desired Land, may He be blessed, to add His presence to our plans and place in our city a spirit of love, brotherhood, peace, and friendship. He should show us the salvation of His nation and Land with His blessing to Zion and salvation to Israel, His glory, quickly in our times.
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