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President Peres: "Migdal Ohr Is Like No Other In Our Regions"

 

At a recent event held in honor of Migdal Ohr, the President of The State of Israel, Shimon Peres, addressed those who gathered to give tribute to Migdal Ohr. We are proud to present you with the entire text of his inspiring words:

"Rabbi Grossman, Israel prize laureate, is an exemplary figure. A man of vision. This man’s vision has brought to the establishment of the Migdal Ohr educational network, which is unlike any other is our regions: a light tower of Torah and vocation, of love of Israel which has none paralleled. An endeavor which has saved tens of thousands of youngsters in Israel who have been condemned to alienation and humiliation. Rabbi Grossman has drawn redemption - from the depths.

Rabbi Grossman was a young man in his early twenties when he chose to settle in Migdal Ha’Emek. The entire Grossman family is a wondrous one. I have visited the small and cramped apartment which the Grossmans have been raised in, where they turned material poverty into spiritual wealth. I don’t know if there is another such a modest apartment which has created such a rich contribution.

Migdal Ha'Emek's name did not generate enthusiasm. Its good inhabitants - mostly immigrants form the various Muslim countries – where men of hard work, belief and tradition, but they lived in adversity and lacking. It was an unemployment ridden development town, and was unjustifiably and against its own good described as a center of crime and violence. Rabbi Grossman chose to move to a difficult and alienated place, and to cope with a meager social reality, charged with a sense of neglect, bitterness and suspicion. He did not pursuit the easy life; rather, he followed the righteous one. He is gifted with a noble spirit and benevolence. He received every person with a good smile, a listening ear, with warmth and love. He was not condescending and did not preach, he displayed a personal example. He consoled others in their distress, he held out an embracing hand, radiated warmth and the broadness of heart, and earned their trust. He was soon chosen as Chief Rabbi of Migdal Ha'Emek and became the pride of the town, helping to make a deep change in the town's educational landscape, its image and reputation. There is no resident of Migdal Ha'Emek who has not met and cherished the young Rabbi. He walks among them as an equal among equals, partner to every celebration and sadness, and serves as a supporting and wisely advising source, in good taste with patience for anyone in distress and for any painful personal or familial crisis. 

Rabbi Grossman's main objective was the caring for the children. Among the residents of Migdal Ha'Emek he saw youth who had been pushed to the margins of society, eaten with frustration and rage. He knew that the blossoms of their great talents have withered before their time, due to the lacking of guidance and a nourishing environment. He established Migdal Ohr to save the children, to provide them with the best education, Torah and morals, Jewish and universal values, and an opportunity to realize their potential.

Migdal Ohr began its journey as Rabbi Grossman’s personal initiative, as a one person's undertaking, inspired by his father Rabbi Yisrael Grossman who encouraged his son and strengthened his hands throughout this holy mission.

Rabbi Grossman’s vision and its implementation, his belief driven passion and pleasantness of his personality have joined together and opened hearts and doors. He did not withdraw into Torah's shrine, but rather went out into the public realm and intuitively and with wisdom learned "the rules of the game", the methods of achieving means and public support, to implement his plans. No one could resist him; no obstacle could deter him, because the objective – the education of the underprivileged children of Israel – was always his main drive with no personal interests.  He is a Shalich Mitzvah, and emissary of good deeds. There is nothing that can withstand such a mission. We remember the modest beginning, and see today the immense educational empire which Rabbi Grossman has established, the network which occupies itself with education, charity, the absorption of immigration. It is evident that the Bible's blessing "And though thy beginning was small, yet thy end shall greatly increase" (Job 8:7) has been realized. The Rabbi's hand is still extended, his inner fountain of energy is unending, he is an "overflowing spring".

I have no doubt: tens of thousands of children has passed through Migdal Ohr's institutions over the past 40 years and have become loyal, educated, creative, and religious citizens in the state of Israel, they are Rabbi Grossman's source of pride, and ours as well. As it is stated in Isaiah (29:23): "When he seeth his children, the work of My hands, in the midst of him, that they sanctify My name; yea, they shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall stand in awe of the God of Israel."

Dear Rabbi, you and Migdal Ohr are one.  This is your personal enterprise, but you have succeeded in recruiting many partners in Israel and abroad and have created an outstanding work force. The administrative faculty, teachers and educators work under your leadership and are guided to walk in your path. I am not naive. I am sure if the event this evening was designed to celebrate you, you would have refused. But you have a good name, which you have used to embrace those who are close, to bring close those who are distant, and to invest in the most precious thing for the Jewish people: our children. I have already stated that in my eyes the answer to the question of who is a Jew, should be he who cares that those who are near him stay Jewish. You are my great and good friend, the keeper of our children, you set them on the proper path and you do it with inspiration and nobility which enthralls us all. 

I say to all who have gathered:  do not be bashful to contribute, do not even be bashful to enlarge you contribution, it is a contribution to the future of Israel which is done with the support of one of its most magnificent citizens".