YOZMA's Preschool children enjoy an outdoor Kabbalat-Shabbat service.
Kehillat YOZMA – the Progressive community in Modi'in
Nes Gadol Haya Poh. A Great Miracle Happened Here.
As I write this less than two weeks before Chanukah, this phrase seems so appropriate for an article about Modi'in and about Kehillat YOZMA – the Progressive Jewish community here. For me, the meteoric growth and success of Modi'in and YOZMA are nothing short of miraculous.
Back in 1995, when we sought to improve our housing situation (then a two bedroom, third-floor walk-up in an old building in Ramat Gan), our search took us as far as the not-yet-built Modi'in. I marvel now at our leap of faith then – to have believed that the huge construction site filled with cranes and dirt that was then Modi'in would blossom in such a short time to a city of the future – complete with 80,000 residents, a huge Azrieli mall, a state-of-the-art cultural center and not one, but two train stations linking it to Tel Aviv and the entire country.
We could hardly have envisioned then what a beautiful and comfortable city Modi'in would become – unique among Israel's "patched-together" cities in that it was fully-planned well before the first building went up. We could not have known that this would become a city that feels more like a large town – filled with neighborhood shopping centers, a large helping of parks and playgrounds and low-rise red-roofed buildings where every apartment has a porch or garden or both.
And in an almost dayenu-like refrain, while all this would have been "miraculous" enough – for me, there is also Kehillat YOZMA – the Progressive Jewish community here.
When we returned to Israel in 1999 – a bit shell-shocked from a stint abroad – we discovered this fledgling Progressive community here and they in turn welcomed us with open arms. Back then a small but growing number gathered for YOZMA's Shabbat and holiday services – held in a small pre-fabricated structure that doubled as a pre-school classroom during the week. From those humble beginnings, the community has grown by leaps and bounds – keeping pace with Modi'in's spectacular growth. YOZMA now boasts two full-time rabbis – Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon and Rabbi Nir Barkin, six pre-school classes, its own elementary school track and an adult Beit Midrash. The community also sponsors several social action projects – including the adoption of the Ramle-based Beit Eden group home for developmentally-challenged children and a single-parent support group.
And indeed this past year, yet another miracle has happened here. Kehillat YOZMA became the first non-Orthodox community in Israel to receive a government-sponsored structure for its synagogue. Once this "ground-breaking" precedent was established, a spate of state-sponsored buildings for other non-Orthodox communities throughout Israel soon followed in quick succession – the fruit of years of legal appeals and political lobbying by YOZMA and the Progressive movement's IRAC (Israel Religious Action Center). How truly appropriate that this "miracle" happened first here in Modi'in – home of the Maccabees and of Chanukah which commemorates the freedom to worship as one chooses.
But for many – myself included - the true miracle is the community of YOZMA. In a city where everyone has left behind their extended families (whether in Jerusalem or Givatayim, America or England), YOZMA provides the social safety-net that makes the city a home. It is the concerned call when you did not show up for services, and the food brought to the home of a sick member. It is the wondrous and creative feeling of working together on any of YOZMA's various committees. It is the shared history as you watch your children grow up together – celebrating their bar / bat mitzvah and their entering of the army together with the community.
Nes Gadol Haya Poh. A Great Miracle Happened Here – and is still happening every day at YOZMA and in Modi'in.
Kehillat YOZMA's synagogue is located on Hativat Givati 31 in Modi'in.
For more information contact Karin Sigal at Karin@yozma.org.il
Visit our website at: www.yozma.org.il
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