Otniel residents celebrate rabbi's 60th birthday

Otniel residents surprise Rabbi Re'em Hacohen with birthday gift, pictures, and heartfelt letters.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Rabbi Re'em Cohen with yeshiva students and Otniel residents
Rabbi Re'em Cohen with yeshiva students and Otniel residents
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Otniel Hesder Yeshiva Dean and Otniel Rabbi Re'em Hacohen celebrated his sixtieth birthday last week, and the town of Otniel decided to surprise him, as a thank-you for his hard work and leadership.

Otniel families collected pictures from the past few dozen years, and added personal letters. During the Shabbat afternoon meal, the community gathered at the Hesder yeshiva, to celebrate with Rabbi Hacohen and his students. They also gave the Rabbi Hacohen a special album with all the pictures and letters.

Earlier, before Shabbat began, the town's residents gave the Hacohen family a gift.

Otniel resident Rabbi Noam Hacohen blessed the town's rabbi in the name of all the residents, and said, "Our sages told us which way to go, and told us to learn Torah, to drink Torah, from a rabbi who is like an angel.

"'Like an angel' means dedicated to his mission, and doing it cleanly and with courage, greeting people and his surroundings with happiness. It is this kind of rabbi whose Torah is sought.

"Our rabbi, our beloved Rabbi Re'em Hacohen, please look at us. We are all gathered, we have all come to bless you on your sixtieth birthday. Really, the birthday is an 'excuse.' This birthday is an opportunity for us to stop and tell you how we feel, to tell you what the residents of Otniel feel towards you."

Otniel Committee Head Yoel Copeland and event organizer Avraham Shalem explained their chosen gift to the rabbi.

"This gift is one given to you from all the residents of Otniel, which allows a pleasant rest and a place to think about Torah. We thank you for your efforts and your leadership."

Rabbi Hacohen was surprised by the communal effort, and tears appeared in his eyes.

"Everything I have - belongs to you," Rabbi Hacohen said. "I draw my strength from my wife, my family, and from the residents of Otniel and the students of the yeshiva."

In the past few weeks, Otniel has held celebrations after a difficult year. Dafna Meir's daughter Renana got engaged to another Otniel resident, and last week, Rabbi Michael "Miki" Mark's daughter also became engaged. Otniel is also expanding, working hard to accept new residents in preparation for the upcoming summer "moving season."