A large meeting of the representatives of UTJ and the heads
of the chareidi community of the Negev was held this past
motzei Shabbos in the Ganei Hadar hall of Ofakim. It
was attended by representatives of the local city councils,
the local religious councils, and the heads of the region's
Torah and chinuch institutions. At the end of the
important meeting, a series of decisions were made, the main
one being the founding of an eight-member Negev Forum.
Two weeks ago, a small scale meeting, attended by UTJ's
representatives in the city councils of the Negev, was held.
This meeting focused on founding a forum of chareidi
representatives and heads of the chareidi communities in the
south, who would work together and help each other in a broad
range of areas, especially that of overcoming the
difficulties they encounter with the heads of the local
authorities and the government offices.
At the second, large scale meeting, representatives expressed
sharp criticism and great pain over the current situation.
They said that without a doubt it is possible to broaden the
circle of supporters and voters for UTJ. However in the
absence of an appropriate attitude, of an attentive ear and
the extending of suitable help and assistance, the circle of
supporters has remained the same, while other parties have
managed to broaden their base of supporters significantly.
The spokesman stressed that there is nothing and no one to
fear and that the time has come to hone matters to the point
that the demands of the forum will be honored. Rabbi Yonah
Pfeufer painfully described secular ads courting Arab voters,
while nothing is being done to draw Jewish voters into the
circle of supporters and voters of UTJ. Rabbi Wolpe noted
that the various communities had hoped that a few "bones" and
budgets would be tossed their way. But even this small bit
wasn't offered to the Negev communities.
Rabbi bar Yochai spoke about the many school and kindergarten
teachers employed by the Chinuch Atzmai and its Kindergarten
Network. However, when elections for the councils and Knesset
roll around, these employees support other parties. He
suggested that seminars and meetings be held in order to
inculcate correct outlooks and eliminate the current fear.
Rabbi Mushiel Maimon bolstered Rabbi bar Yochai's remarks,
and said that we must begin such efforts immediately.
Rabbi Nosson Weiss spoke about the need to strengthen the
idea of the Negev Forum, saying that the time has come to
establish a permanent, organized body, whose voice will be
heard all of the time, and not only on the eve of elections.
Rabbi Herzel Shauvi claimed that during a period when the
large parties are collapsing, the extending of help on
personal basis has a decisive influence on the dimension of
the residents' support at election time. However, in order to
extend this help, assistance from the government offices in
which UTJ representatives officiate is needed.
This important event was closed by Rabbi Avrohom Deutsch of
Ofakim, whose heartfelt and sincere words merited the
approval of all present. "UTJ was not founded for
Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak alone, but to broaden the circle,
to reach the public at large, and to spread Yiddishkeit.
Where can one achieve all this if not in the Negev? One has
to experience life in the periphery and the development
towns, and when one doesn't understand the ambience of the
place and its needs, the attitude and the results are