Hundreds of visitors to Israel joined local residents for a trip to Beit El on Sunday to celebrate the dedication of the first ever Talmudic Garden on the campus of the Bnei Tzvi Yeshiva High School.
Israel Government Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein attended the event.
"Instead of a regular schoolyard, we decided to do something special," says Director of Beit El institutions Hanoch HaKohen. The landscape architect integrated elements from classic stories in the Talmud into the scenery.
The result is an educational and aesthetically charming garden with a breathtaking view of the hills of the Efraim that is in itself a venue for learning and discussion.
New York philanthropists and Chairmen of the American Friends of the Bet El Yeshiva Center Mr. Eugen and Jeanie Gluck led the many buses of Beit El supporters to the ceremony.
In his speech, Mr. Gluck said: "Beit El is where Jewish history began and where Jewish life continues to thrive. You are building the State of Israel, educating the children of Israel, and defending the borders of the Land of Israel. You are doing this under most difficult conditions. We wish you much success in your holy work, and we pledge our total commitment and continued and unstinting support for many years to come. Be firm and strong."
Speaking at the dedication ceremony, Minister Yuli Edelstein said:
"Forty years ago, the area of Bet El was, I apologize for the term, Judenrein – there were no Jews here. Thirty-four years ago, there were 16 families. Today there are over 1200. This speaks much about the growth of the Jewish population in Beit El and in this region.
"I am coming to you from Kiev where I recently attended the Babi Yar ceremony [commemorating the massacre of over 33,000 Jews by Nazis in 1941]. Many people say, if only the State of Israel were in existence when those things happened.
But, this line of reasoning can lead even well-meaning people to faulty conclusions. They say: 1) Terrible things happened to Jews in Europe, 2) Europeans were ashamed of themselves, 3) They found a certain piece of land and put Jews there - but this has now introduced a new problem of the suffering of poor Palestinians.'
"The Gluck Talmudic Garden is about reminding ourselves and the rest of the world that our presence in this land goes back long before any of those European countries existed. The Gluck Talmudic Courtyard proves that all the towns like Beit El are not here because Jews needed an asylum. Rather, the Jews are the rightful owners of the land.
May G-d give you strength to continue building the Land of Israel in the borders that we will be reading about in the coming weekly Torah portions."
Knesset Members Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz (National Union) and Danny Danon (Likud) also spoke at the event.
New York Attorney and President of the American Friends of Bet El David Friedman and his wife Tammy attended the gala ceremony. Addressing the crowd, Mr. Friedman noted that Beit El, via its many institutions including the Arutz Sheva media network, is an international hub of Jewish learning, activism and Israel advocacy.
Participants were treated to a bus tour from Jerusalem to Beit El, a lavish lunch in the enormous Beit El Yeshiva Sukkah - constructed especially for the event, and musical accompaniment from Hassidic singing star Akiva Margaliot.
American Friends of Beit El Activists Sherman and Sheila Simanowitz, David Hollander and Marty Segal were also in attendance. In his speech, Mr. Gluck welcomed his close friends Alter Goldstein, Daniel and Raizy Benedict and all four generations of the Gluck family from Israel and overseas – "too numerous to mention by name, bli ayin hara."
The annual Bet El Gala Dinner at the Manhattan Marriot Marquis, a not-to-be-missed event, is scheduled for Sunday, December 4th. For tickets and information, contact baruch@IsraelNationalNews.com .