The Early Years
(contributed by Moti Farber)
Our Bet Knesset started out as “Simchat Eliyahu” almost 20 years ago. The Gross, Levin, Ferdinaro, Gerstenfeld and Farber families rounded up their Sefaradi neighbors in order to make the first Friday night minyan which took place in a back garden. During those first few months, no family was able to go away for Shabbat as otherwise there would not be a Shabbat minyan.
The early years saw the minyan move several times; first to the Bet Esther Matnas and then to the Levin school -originally in the shelter , then in the entrance hall and finally to the gan above the main building. The minyan quickly grew with the arrival of the first Russian families and the Shaalei Torah Garin. Rav Aryeh Mendelkorn served as the first Rav and together with Rav Schneller and Rav Godlevski led the Tefillot on the Yamim Noraim introducing many of the tunes still used in the Bet Knesset. The minyan’s first Sefer Torah was brought over from England by Meir Fligg Z”L and the Hachnassat Torah ceremony was the first of many major celebrations to be held in the growing community.
The minyan continued to grow with the first stage of the Sheinfeld project and the influx of the many new families who began to arrive and settle in Givat Sharett. Consequently a bigger place was needed and eventually the community moved to the Jabotinsky school sports hall. Those who davenned there will never forget the freezing winters, boiling summers, the basketball hoops that were part of the furniture and of course the unique plumbing system! – not to mention the long uphill walk after Tefilla. Shortly thereafter a weekday minyan started up in the Dolbergs downstairs room and when this became too small it moved to the villa opposite.
By the mid 1990’s it was obvious to all that the next stage had to be a permanent home and committees were formed to draw up plans, raise money and to set into motion what was to become Bet Knesset Netzach Menashe. Here is a copy of the brochure that was put together in 1994 in order to raise money in Israel and abroad.
See if you can recognise the children (now young adults) in the pictures?
The building project went ahead at full steam, led by the new families in the community & the dream was fulfilled in 1998 when the first teffillot were held in the new building. In 1999 Rav Oren Duvdevani was appointed as Rav & possek & the community headed into its second decade as Nezach Menashe. During this decade the community has undergone a natural maturing process most notable as reflected in our youth.
From Brit milah to bar/bat mitzvah, we have progressed on to weddings & many of our youth are now themselves parents. We have nurtured them into yeshivot, army service sherut leumi & even through two wars.
The kehila continues to be a varied mixture of Israelis immigrants Ashkenazim and Sephardim holding a wide range of shiurim in different areas & languages not least for our Russian members.
During the year we hold many social & cultural events for adults & a wide range of activities for our youth, all of these are organized & carried out for the community, by the community itself by the various committees.
It is to be seen what the future will hold, but based on the first twenty years it is sure to be vibrant and varied offering a spiritual and social home to its members.