The Hidabroot organization, headed by dynamic lecturer and researcher Rabbi Zamir Cohen, is about to open its own 24-hour cable Hebrew-language TV network.  An agreement to this effect has been signed with Yes Satellite Television.

Rabbi Cohen, a native of Beit Yisrael, a hareidi neighborhood adjacent to Meah She'arim in Jerusalem, says the goal is not to "turn people religious."  Rather,"we want to increase values and ethics among Jews in Israel and all over the world, and to topple the barriers that exist between the secular and religious worlds... If we do that, that's good; if some people improve their values, that's even better; and if others come to actually observing the Torah commandments, that's an even further advancement."

Rabbi Zamir's best-selling book Mahapach (The Revolution), an attractive, colorful, large-size volume, proves how nature, science and Torah interact.

Rabbi Cohen wants to make Judaism accessible: "We would like to serve up the truth with pleasantness and at eye-level, without going overboard and without dictating to others.  We place it on the table, and whoever wants, will take."

Many have done just that - including practically all of the staff at Hidabroot.  Many of them, who are now religiously observant, happened to hear lectures by Rabbi Cohen over the internet, at pubs, or at various other places - others read pamphlets he wrote - and decided they wanted to learn more.  Some were attracted, as well, by his best-selling book Mahapach (The Revolution), an attractive, colorful, large-size volume that proves how nature, science and Torah interact - a common theme of his lectures.

The Hidabroot channel, which is scheduled to take to the air within approximately two months, is not the first attempt at full-time religious-Jewish TV programming.  A religious television station named Techelet began broadcasting via Yes in 2003, but was unsuccessful in attracting sufficient viewers to make it viable.  Techelet had a Modern Orthodox bent, as opposed to the hareidi orientation of Hidabroot. 

Hidabroot plans to screen only shows that broadcast pure Judaism, though not all of it frontally educational.  Comic episodes promoting Torah values - especially that of becoming familiar with Torah - will be interspersed throughout the programming schedule. 

Difficult Questions, Pleasant Answers

Rabbi Cohen's pleasant manner is evident in his answers to difficult questions.  Asked about the bad name that religious politicians sometimes give to Torah Judaism, he told Ofrah Lax of the B'Sheva weekly, "The religious public has needs that can only be met by religious-party politicians. But we must transmit the message that they are not the Torah's representatives. I have no criticism of them; they do their job - but we must not leave the field only to them."

Asked about other religious preachers who instill fear in their listeners by warning them about the Hellish dangers that await those who do not repent, Rabbi Cohen said, "There are those who need that style... It's true that some of those phrases can sometimes sound sharp... I believe that the style that suits most of Israel today is the one described in the verse, 'The Torah's ways are pleasant and its ways are peace.'"

Interviewed for the very secular Rating television magazine, Rabbi Cohen said, "I was very hesitant about whether to be interviewed here.  But I decided to do it, because it is important to me that Judaism should be accessible for every Jew, no matter what he reads, hears or watches."

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