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7 Av 5766 - August 1, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Surge of Activity in Torah Institutions in Azerbaijan

by B. Kahn

The Committee of friends of Torah Institutions in Azerbaijan, under the leadership of HaRav Moshe Kishon (Kashei), chief rabbi and av beis din of Azerbaijan, has decided to organize a special visit by a delegation of rabbonim, public personalities and philanthropists which will soon depart for the country, to strengthen the local community and to address the issue of how to increase spiritual rescue and strengthen Torah there.

HaRav Moshe Kishon (Kashei) has been active in recent years in Azerbaijan and has succeeded in reviving Yiddishkeit there, including Torah-true schools, a yeshiva and a halachically-based community. From the very beginning he merited the brochos of Morenu HaRav Shach ztvk'l, and ylct"a today's gedolei Yisroel.

Over the past two years there have been a series of worrisome reports from Azerbaijan concerning a string of acts of harassment which have endangered the activities of strengthening Yiddishkeit and spreading Torah in that country, with the express purpose of disrupting the work of the Chief Rabbi of Azerbaijan and his close students. The disgraceful attempts to make difficulties for, and hamper, the impressive chizuk and outreach activities which have been carried out in the last few years amongst the Jews of Azerbaijan, have caused great distress to gedolei Yisroel, who have expressed their pain about the resulting chilul Hashem as well as their worries about damage which may have resulted to all the Torah and educational enterprises which have been painstakingly setup there.

As a result of this HaRav Shmuel Auerbach sent the following letter of chizuk to the Jews of Azerbaijan. "I am sending you this letter to recognize the great standing of the great, highly-esteemed, truly G-d fearing gaon, who is full of wisdom, understanding and knowledge, HaRav Moshe Kashei (Kishon) shlita. I have known him well for many years and we have discerned his greatness in Torah and extraordinarily pleasant middos. At the recommendation of the Rosh Kol Bnei Hagolah Maran HaRav Shach ztvk'l he went to settle in Azerbaijan some eight years ago, and has done things and helped others do them with enormous mesirus nefesh, and he serves there as chief rabbi and av beis din of that country. He has set up many Torah institutions with great enthusiasm and astuteness, including many yeshivos, boys' and girls' schools and chessed organizations, and he is utterly honest, scrupulously trustworthy and totally G-d-fearing.

I am requesting of all the Jews in Azerbaijan — men, women and children — to listen to this honorable rav and gaon, HaRav Kashei shlita, regarding everything. Those who do so will be greatly blessed in all things. And may Hashem's pleasantness be upon you."

In a second letter HaRav Auerbach addressed the philanthropists, asking them to assist in expanding the holy ventures there, and to enable HaRav Kishon to continue both of his undertakings: that of spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit and also the establishment of Torah-true schools with no non-Jewish enrollment. Admission of non-Jews is a tendency that has managed to infiltrate even the "Jewish institutions" in the area, which have experienced distressing upheavals and reforms since the harassment towards the local rav began.

He writes in this letter:

"The high esteem in which the great man, who constantly exerts himself for Torah, HaRav HaGaon Moshe Kashei (Kishon), is well-known. His reputation goes before him and his praises are sung because of his laudable endeavors in spreading Torah and strengthening Yiddishkeit. He settled in Azerbaijan more than eight years ago as an emissary, and at the recommendation, of the Rosh Kol Bnei Hagolah Maran HaRav Shach ztvk'l, and he disseminates Torah and strengthens and draws Jews' hearts closer — there in Azerbaijan — to their Father in Heaven, with remarkable mesirus nefesh. He has, with G-d's help, single- handedly founded Torah, educational and chessed institutions and built up a splendid community.

From the time that he was chosen by the Jewish community there and with the recommendation and brochoh of gedolei Yisroel, as chief rabbi and av beis din of the country, he has been fighting the war of Hashem to prevent assimilation, Heaven forbid, and he has guarded against any breach in upholding the purity of Jewish descent by not allowing non-Jews to be registered in various institutions, an area which has been neglected and violated to a vast extent in our generation. HaRav HaGaon Moshe Kashei shlita has been on full alert to safeguard this."

HaRav Shmuel Auerbach ends with his blessing and support to HaRav Kishon, "who I know well and who is famed for his honesty, trustworthiness and fear of G-d," and he adds, "now that he has been given further support for everything we have already mentioned, he has taken even more on himself to increase the amount of holy projects."

The Committee of Friends of Torah Institutions in Azerbaijan has resolved that a situation of outside pressures such as this one calls for implementing a counteraction: `so we will increase and multiply.' It has therefore declared that there will be a surge of activity in the Torah institutions in Azerbaijan headed by HaRav Moshe Kishon (Kashei). The special visit by the delegation of rabbonim and philanthropists, which will soon leave for the country, is intended to show support for the chief rabbi and av beis din of Azerbaijan, and to expand the projects for spiritual rescue and strengthening Torah there.


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