The Great News About Beit Bracha!

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 ( and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives ( He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

There was great news today in Gush Etzion! It was announced that the current area of Gush Etzion will be enlarged to include the "Beit Bracha" compound just south of the Gush Junction. Its always positive when Jews develop our ancestral heritage. But its crucial to examine this specific case and learn a very important general lesson that can be applied elsewhere. 

For whatever reason, the Israeli Government is paralyzed. This has been the case for some time - actually since the signing of the Oslo Accords. After Oslo, successive Israeli Governments (both right and left), with very few exceptions (like the building of the Har Homa neighborhood in Jerusalem in 1996), have refused to be proactive in Judea, Samaria and even Jerusalem. It seems that it was felt that the Oslo Accords constrained the Government's ability to build new communities and legally acquire more land - this despite the fact that there is no explicit prohibition on this in the Accords. 

As result of this consistently practiced policy, it has been left to private individuals and groups to make this happen. This is true about land purchases in Jerusalem (Israel Land Fund, Ateret Cohanim, Beit Orot and others), Hevron ("Beit HaShalom") and at Beit Bracha in Gush Etzion. This is also true with the "outposts" and their nearby agricultural developments. The Government stands ready to authorize, but only when backed into a corner. 

One could go on and on about how wrong this situation is. Wasn't part of the purpose of having a State to be that the State would be more powerful than the individual?!! Well it just hasn't turned out that way. Certainly the Government (especially the current one) should be encouraged by one and all to regain that role of actively settling the country. However, at the same time, EVERYONE should be doing whatever we can to strengthen the Jewish Presence throughout the country, and especially in Jerusalem and other highly strategic locations. There is no time to bemoan the Government's perception of the situation, there is only time to act! 

We all know people (even if we ourselves are not personally as able) that have the real ability to make ideological investments and strategic charitable donations. One need just visit or get in touch with Ateret Cohanim to see what is available. Outposts must be actively aided in every way! Synagogues improved and expanded, mikvehs built (like in Eish Kodesh), landscaping and tree planting. And in older communities, housing projects need to be privately financed. For whatever reason, the Government won't do it right now (Hopefully they will after Obama). WE MUST DO IT!! 

I join all of Klal Yisrael in wishing a hearty mazel tov to the Moskowitz Family and Arieh King on their tremendous accomplishment of acquiring and developing Beit Bracha and look forward to many, many more such accomplishments!!!!

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem