Completing the Mission

A lot was said about the kidnapped Yemenite children. About the heritage that was stolen away from hundreds of thousands of others – a lot less was written. Today is the yahrzeit of one of the first people who recognized the wound, the wound that is still open: Rabbi Yeshayahu Meshorer, one of the rabbis of Yemenite Jewry, a student at Merkaz HaRav Yeshivah, an enthusiastic Zionist. Already back in 1943, he wrote poignant articles in the newspapers about the flaws in the absorption process of Olim. He documented – perhaps as a first testimony – the cutting of the pe’ot (side locks) of the Olim: “The counselor shaved their pe’ot with a blade, saying: In Eretz Israel we need to be as clean as soldiers, and it isn’t proper to grow pe’ot like we did in exile. Here we are renewed and we become new people, and we have no need for Diaspora like customs.”

After another visit to an absorption camp, he wrote: “The oldest of them tells me with tears in his eyes that the counselor doesn’t let them pray Shacharit, once with the pretext that there is no time and we must go to work, and other times with other different excuses. ‘No matter how early we get up, he claims that there is no time, as if he is sworn not to let us pray, and whoever disobeys him and stays there to pray – is not sent to work.’ And the oldest of them tells me with words that pierce the heart: ‘We came here to sanctify ourselves even more with the sanctity of the Land, and not to dwindle our spiritual treasure which has been passed to us in inheritance from our fathers and our forefathers.'”
A long time has passed since, but there is still a lot to fix for the Zionist mission to be completed. As Rabbi Meshorer himself wrote: “The Jews of Yemen, three loves are nested in their heart: the love of Torah, worship and work, the love of the People and the Land, and the love of the Creator and those He created.”

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סיון רהב-מאיר

Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds and the live broadcast attracts thousands more listeners throughout the world.
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