"The Time of Our Happiness" in Itamar

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

My family and I were incredibly privileged last night to be able to attend the dedication of a new Synagogue and Torah Scroll in the Jewish Community of Itamar in the Shomron. The Festival of Sukkos is referred to as "zman simchaseinu" - "the time of our happiness" -  and last night in Itamar, we all experienced a joy that will not soon be forgotten!

Everything was done in memory of the Fogel Family and the other fallen heroes of Itamar, hy'd. There were so many powerful emotions throughout the evening. Thinking of the terrible sadness of those lost, and in such brutal ways - the painful sacrifices made so that the community of Itamar could today exist and thrive. And then thinking of the incredible feeling that after 30 years, the residents of Itamar would now have a permanent synagogue, and a gorgeous one at that!

For the new Torah dedication, the almost-obligatory truck blasting music accompanied the procession of ecstatic dancing to the new synagogue. When walking next to the truck, the music was quite loud. Instead of covering my ears or complaining, I just kept hoping he would turn it even louder to make sure the nearby arab terror nests heard every note and word and would know that despite their vicious violence, the very opposite of their intended goal was taking place. Instead of scaring Jews away, the Jewish Presence was being solidified significantly on this festive evening.

This incredible evening was made possible by the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Ira Rennert - renowned paragons of charity and dedication to Torah and the Land of Israel and the vision and wisdom of HaRav HaGaon Aharon Bina, shlita, of Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh in the Old City of Jerusalem, across from the Holy of Holies.

Itamar now has a new synagogue building, a new Torah scroll, a new Yeshiva building (under the direction of Rav Avichai Ronsky, former Chief Rabbi of the IDF), news houses recently constructed and inhabited and dozens more houses being built in the near future. If this is doesn't make you joyful on Sukkos, you're either an ISIS supporter or its time for you to move to Berlin.

Great things are happening in Itamar, in the Shomron, in Judea, in Jerusalem (Ir Dovid specifically) and throughout the Land of Israel! We should all strive to be able to follow the Rennerts' sterling example of generosity and the self-sacrifice of the heroic residents of Itamar and, G-d willing, we will have many more joyful dedications in the new year and in many years to come!

Chag Sameach!

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem