A year and a half ago, Mechinat HaEmek, a mixed religious and secular mechina (pre-military leadership academy), moved from the religious community of Tel Te’omim to the secular kibbutz of Kfar Ruppin, where there is no dedicated synagogue space. Since the move, the mechina has been borrowing a Torah scroll every Shabbat from one of the religious kibbutzim in the area.
Mechinat HaEmek contacted other mechinot to ask for assistance, and the first to come forward was Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim, head of Mechinat Elisha, who offered to lend Mechinat HaEmek one of his mechina’s Torah scrolls. This past Tuesday, the Torah scroll was ceremoniously transported from Chalamish/Neveh Tzuf to Kfar Ruppin, in the Beit She’an Valley. The scroll will reside in a permanent aron kodesh (ark), also donated by Mechinat Elisha, and serve the religious students of the mechina, as well as those who are not religious but choose to help make a minyan on Shabbat.
“As part of the move, we had to contend with the new reality of being a mixed religious and secular institution on a secular kibbutz, unlike what we were accustomed to until now,” said Udi Tamir, head of Mechinat HaEmek. “For Shabbat prayers (morning and afternoon services) that are conducted at the mechina, we needed a Torah scroll. It’s well known that a Torah scroll is an expensive item of religious equipment, and so we found ourselves borrowing a Torah scroll from one of the nearby religious kibbutzim every time we stayed at the mechina for Shabbat. Out of a desire to resolve the issue and establish our own special synagogue at the mechina, I approached the other mechina heads, and Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim, the head of Mechinat Elisha, answered the call immediately. “Many thanks to Rabbi Nissim and all of Mechinat Elisha for their solidarity and friendship. We all really are brothers.