US Consul Tours Chareidi Community in Jerusalem
By Betzalel Kahn
"Employees of the US Consulate in Jerusalem are very
impressed by their visits to chareidi neighborhoods,
yeshivas, talmudei Torah and synagogues, which show
chareidi public life in Israel is based on mutual assistance
and helping others, and this is the strength that maintains
you and builds the chareidi public," said Stuart Patt, the US
consul general in Jerusalem.
Patt was speaking to chareidi reporters during a press
conference held at the Tikva Yisrael Center in Jerusalem,
which is headed by HaRav Shlomo Baksht, rov of Odessa,
Ukraine, and Director Rabbi Rafael Kruskal, at the initiative
of Rabbi Mattisyohu Cheshin, director of the Bureau of
Traveler Services, which has been keeping close ties with
foreign embassies and consulates for years and takes foreign
diplomats on tours of chareidi population centers.
At the press conference Patt said that as Pesach and the
summer months draw near the consulate in Jerusalem reminds
anyone applying for US visas or passports to come as early as
possible and to arrive with all of the required documents. He
said the waiting time for a tourist visa is about two weeks,
and those planning to visit the US must make arrangements in
advance to allow enough time to submit the visa application.
"Urgent requests will be accepted only in the event of
medical emergencies," he said. "Private trips will not be
eligible for preferential treatment."
Pratt says US citizens can apply for a new passport or birth
reports for their children on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and
Friday from 8:00 am to 11:30 am. US passports are issued in 3-
4 weeks, but the processing time can be longer, especially
during the summer. US citizens planning to travel to the US
should apply a month before their departure.
Patt also said those who plan to travel to the US for Pesach
can submit visa requests in the coming days, come to the
consulate for an interview within the next week and receive
the visa soon afterwards. He noted that sometimes people come
to the consulate with insufficient documents and that the
applicant must bring proof he does not intend to settle in
the US. The consul also said many improvements have been made
to the consulate building, and that the consulate is slated
to move to East Talpiot in the near future, where it will be
housed in a building constructed with assistance provided by
Jerusalem Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky.
Commenting on the benefit of the tour Rabbi Cheshin led him
on together with dozens of consulate employees, Patt said,
"We are very impressed by these visits in chareidi population
centers, yeshivas, talmudei Torah, synagogues and
family affairs. On one hand we see the chareidi public
studying Torah all day, making one wonder how they get by.
But when one sees the centers of Torah and Chassidut being
built it becomes apparent chareidi public life in Israel is
based on mutual assistance and helping others, and this is
the strength that maintains you and builds the chareidi
He also said that even when a visa applicant lacks financial
proof, these tours indicate the chareidi traveler is
nonetheless firmly rooted in Israel. "In the chareidi sector
it's hard to demonstrate financial ability because of the
lack of pay slips among avreichim, but we've learned
that people help one another, and even if someone does not
have an official source of income he has an apartment and
children and we grant him a visa with peace of mind." The
consul also praised Rabbi Cheshin for his work as head of the
Bureau for Traveler Services.