|Rabbi Mauricio Balter
Co-Chair, Hilary Levy
Co-Chair, Moshe Kumove
Weizman 41 Kiryat Bialik
P.O Box 5808 27157, Israel
Twenty-six years ago, an English-speaking group of immigrants decided there was a need to establish a place of prayer where traditions could be observed in Kiryat Bialik. Thus the Masorti Congregation began in the Krayot.
The membership at our synagogue today, is 180 families from all parts of the world. One of our advantages is that we have many Israeli families amongst us, and this aids integration into Israeli society. Today we have in our community people who come from 28 countries: Israel (natives), Syria, South Africa, Argentina, India, Germany, Uruguay, Morocco, Canada, Tangier, Brazil, England, Chile, Panama, Russia, Poland, Rumania, USA, Mexico, Peru, etc.
Our Congregation began in a private home. As a result of our expansion we were given premises from the local municipality where we could “build” our community. By this I mean on Friday evening we assemble the “Aron Kodesh”, the bima and set out the chairs for some 140 people. Saturday after tefilot we have to dismantle everything and make the hall available for the educational activities the municipality requires.Our beliefs are based on: Commitment to the Halacha, Zionism and devotion to Israel, Democracy, and Pluralism: equality (all services are egalitarian).
Our Rabbi is Rabbi Mauricio Balter and he has been with us for 9 years. He made aliyah from Argentina. He is extremely dynamic and has endless energy. Rabbi Mauricio Balter is a graduate of the Beit Midrash for Rabbis in Latin America. He made aliyah in 1995. Rabbi Balter was the Director of the Conservative Movement in Argentine and also served as a congregational rabbi there for many years. He has experience in organizational management and informal education. He established a program of aliyah for Conservative families through which more than 330 families have made aliyah from South America to Kiryat Bialik. Rabbi Balter has also been the chairperson of the Religious Affairs Bureau and he is the President of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel. Our dream of course, is to build our own Synagogue and we have just been granted permission by the city council to start this project. Needless to say we are now desperate to find funds to help us on our way. We are trying to contribute to creating a better State based on Jewish traditions and Jewish life style.
Activities and News
- Community Aliyah
Our largest project is a project initiated by Rabbi Balter. This is the “community Aliyah” from S. America. The project has helped 450 families to come to Israel, a considerable part of them participate actively in the community. Many families were in dire financial straits because of the situation in South America (Argentina and Uruguay) Rabbi Balter together with the Mayor of Kiriat Bialik visited Argentine (11 short missions in the last six years) and interview the families and then bring them to Kiriat Bialik to find a future and build their homes.
This project is known almost world-wide today because of the endless energy of our Rabbi. These families arrive in Israel, totally lost and apprehensive. They find in our community a home (almost shelter) and people more than willing to help and guide them. They begin to settle and soon feel they have made the right choice. They are assisted in finding jobs for the first 6 months within the framework of the municipality, they get free education for the children, medical needs and other perks. The cost of absorbing these people is huge as you can imagine but well-worth it when we see the children befriending Israeli children and speaking fluent Hebrew. This is our future.
- Charitable Activities
The congregation buys the equipment for needy children at the start of the school year. This equipment is given to the welfare dept. of the municipality and the needy children are then ready with everything they need to start school (bags, books pens etc.) This year we equipped some 20 children.
At Pesach we collect all “chamatz” from the Kehila and it is passed on to an Arab / Christian / Muslim kindergarten in Akko with which our Tzedaka member has contact. We already have many projects with the kindergarten.
Food collections are made throughout the year for needy people- again this goes out anonymously through the local charity organization or directly to the institutions that ask for it. People bring non perishable food to each of the tefillot.
As a consequence of the arrival of olim from South America the community opened a clothes and furniture storehouse that has become a place for helping all the needy of the area. This storehouse is managed by about 20 volunteers who work together with the municipality of Kiriat Bialik.
- Workshops on Jewish Values
We have a project in the non-religious schools of the area in which our rabbi gives workshops about Jewish values based on the texts of the Talmud and the Midrash. We have been asked by different schools to extend the project.
- Festival Workshops
In addition we have activities for the youngsters before each festival (especially for the children of the olim). Our youth attend our youth movement, NOAM with great success in their activities.
- Soldier’s Welfare
Another committee looks after “our soldiers” (today we have approx. 35 soldiers serving in the army) Children of the congregation are invited to the synagogue for a ceremony before they are drafted. We present each and every one with a personal siddur, certificate and a voucher for the local army store to the value of 200 shekels (a contribution from our twin community in New York) A committee member then follows them through their service with gifts for “chagim”, birthday cards, etc.