The foundation is the brainchild of men of action from all walks of life intent on advancing projects and initiatives to benefit neighborhood residents* Among the initial programs: The “Shalom Beit Shemesh” initiative
A festive event at the social hall of Yeshivat Lev Hatorah marked the launch of “The Ramat Beit Shemesh Foundation”. The new foundation will promote projects and programs that will benefit the wide spectrum of Ramat Beit Shemesh residents and place their needs at the top of the municipal government’s agenda, while emphasizing the unique facets and needs of a neighborhood whose population is overwhelmingly comprised of Jews who came from the world over to build their homes in the holy land.
The foundation was established in order to meet the needs of the residents of this rising neighborhood, and to advance projects that are vital for any developing city. The foundation intends to enlist the aid of philanthropists and charitable trusts here in Israel and abroad in order to see these ideas to fruition, and to realize the collective vision of neighborhood residents. The foundation strives to emulate the well-established funds that were instrumental in the development of Israel’s larger cities, serving as a philanthropic and apolitical organization to provide funding for projects that will benefit the general public in the fields of education, social welfare, healthcare, community projects and charitable works.
The event opened with a message from Beit Shemesh’s Chief Rabbi, Harav Shimon Bitton, who could not attend the gathering, but sent his warm blessings to the assembly. Harav Bitton was effusive in his praise for the joint effort of our city’s denizens to work together for the public good, emphasizing that there is no greater receptacle for prosperity than peace between man and his fellow.
Foundation Chairman, Rabbi Shmuel Zalman Eidensohn, described the principles that will govern the foundation’s activities, calling upon the participants to enthuse their friends and neighbors to join in the foundation’s endeavors, in order to further the neighborhood’
Rabbi Benjamin Kwalwasser, founder and director of Yeshivat Lev Hatorah and foundation board member, addressed the assembled, remarking that the atmosphere of unity that pervaded the evening moved him. He said, “I came to Ramat Beit Shemesh at the very beginning, I saw the wonderful things being done in this neighborhood. However, I also realized that in order for the neighborhood to thrive we must act as one, which is what we will do together through the foundation that emphasizes the importance of pursuing the interests of the greater community. It is a most opportune time to offer a prayer, ‘Bless us all Father, together as one’.”
Beit Shemesh’s Mayor, R’ Moshe Abutbul, praised the initiative taken by citizens to unite, quipping that the city certainly does not oppose the idea. He assured the participants that his office’s doors will always be open before the foundation’s directors, and that the municipal government will provide its assistance wherever it may be needed. He said, “This is a great day in the annals of Beit Shemesh. Nothing can match a coalition of citizens, the majority of whom are accomplished community activists, in effecting change and creating productive ventures. You have chosen the correct course –a course of action. There is no doubt that you will succeed in bringing phenomenal achievements and many beneficial projects to Ramat Beit Shemesh, and all of its residents will hold your deeds in the highest esteem.”
Dr. Yechiel Wright, a leading emergency medicine specialist in the United States and foundation board member, said in his remarks that the foundation’s mission is not limited to the promotion of specific projects; rather it seeks to bring comprehensive change in prevailing attitudes at all levels. “One can patch up a pothole”, said Dr. Wright, “but a more astute person will repair the entire road. This is our objective, to effect changes of perspective that will benefit the general populace and lead to achievements in all areas.”
Dr. Ephraim Rosenbaum, director of the Leumit Medical Center in Ramat Beit Shemesh and foundation board member, noted the need to strengthen the lines of communication between the municipal government and the various communities of Ramat Beit Shemesh. This is most critical for the communities that are largely comprised of olim from abroad, who have difficulty at times understanding the Israeli mentality and bureaucracy. He called upon the foundation’s directors to act in conjunction with the municipality to increase the number of native English speakers, with their intimate understanding of the ‘Anglo’ mentality, among the staff of the city's various departments. He said that this is especially necessary in the Social Services Department, where he has seen the problems that arise from misunderstanding and poor communication.
City Spokesman, Mattisyahu Rosenzweig, said that despite the media’s portrayal of our city, this event shows how Beit Shemesh’s residents coexist in exceptional harmony and unity that can serve as a model for other cities to emulate. “This is our city’s true asset that we must indeed cultivate,” said Rosenzweig.
Throughout the evening, participants raised various proposals that might influence the quality of life in the neighborhood. Mr. Oded Shachor, manager of ‘Einit’ optics in Ramat Beit Shemesh, told of the neglect that is evident in the Ramat Beit Shemesh shopping center, which is in dire need of comprehensive renovations and an upgrade to its infrastructure, including additional parking facilities. He called upon the foundation to take up the issue with the municipality.
The evening’s final speaker was Mr. Shlomo Ness, C.P.A. and chairman of Friends of the Foundation. He said that as one who has closely followed Beit Shemesh’s development, he is overwhelmed by the city’s extraordinary progress. He described Beit Shemesh as a dynamic city that never rests on its laurels, with which he is pleased to associate by helping its citizens establish the foundation, which will quickly become the city’s premier public institution, internationally recognized for promoting Ramat Beit Shemesh’s best interests.
Towards the end of the event, the dignitaries and foundation members signed the charter of The Ramat Beit Shemesh Foundation, a stirring document which concludes “The foundation will be a proud partner to any positive initiative, and will cultivate grass-roots movements that seek to enhance our neighborhood;
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