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A Check in Time
by Rabbi Zalman Garelik
In 1989, I was a yeshiva student learning in the Rebbe’s central synagogue and yeshiva at 770 Eastern Parkway. It was the year that the Rebbe proclaimed as the “Year of Construction.”  On many occasions he asked everyone, his representatives in particular, to build homes and neighborhoods, even additions to houses.  The Rebbe said he would contribute a token $100 to whomever reported about building a new building or an addition to an existing building.

At that time, a Chabad chassid, Yisroel Rosenberg, was living in Beer Sheva and davened in a small shul that was open only on Shabbos.  This shul was located in the old building of Beer Sheva University, the HIAS House.  In light of the Rebbe’s call for construction, he got the board of the shul excited about the idea that it was an auspicious year for building and that they should try to find a plot of land to build a Chabad shul.  They agreed to the idea and he wrote their names to the Rebbe.  A few weeks later, he received a letter of blessing from the Rebbe with a check for a hundred dollars enclosed.

This motivated him to work along with the board to move the project forward.  From that point on began a protracted, complicated process at the municipal offices to obtain permits to build.  They had to first obtain permits to get land and then they had to get building permits.  After all the running around to various committees, the land was lined up and ready to build, but then they were told that they could not allow construction because the land was too close to a gas station.  Meanwhile, Rosenberg moved to a different neighborhood in Beer Sheva, and after a few years moved to Kiryat Malachi, so that there was nobody around to continue pursuing the building project.  That is how the situation remained for many years.

Eleven years went by.  In 2000, the Chabad community in Beer Sheva celebrated a moving event.  We laid the cornerstone for a new Chabad center that would eventually also include a shul, as the area where the Chabad House was located at the time was too small for our activities.  The building consisted of a small room that was used as an office and two other rooms, not particularly large, which served in hodgepodge all-purpose fashion as a shul, men and women’s sections, a library, senior center, an auditorium for events, classrooms, and on occasion as exhibition rooms and assorted  other activities.

After years of running around to the various government offices, the central Chabad House in the city was given a spacious lot.  That was the stage when we began fundraising for the project with the goal of completing the building as quickly as possible.

Yisrael Rosenberg completes the story:

One day, my friend Zalman Garelik, director of the central Chabad House in Beer Sheva, paid me a visit in my home in Kiryat Malachi and told me he had managed to get the permits to build a Chabad House and he asked me for a donation.

I opened the drawer in my desk to take out my checkbook and among my papers I came across a closed envelope.  Immediately it seemed like a lightning bolt flashed in my memory. This was a letter along with a check we had received from the Rebbe to build a Chabad shul in Beer Sheva!

All excited, I showed him what I had found, and told him that in addition to my donation I would give him the check and the letter.  “I guess the Rebbe sent a check for you to use to build this building now, because that building in 1989 never happened.”

The check had waited for years until the time came to forward it to its intended recipient.

At a Chassidic gathering that took place that year in Beer Sheva, I gave Rabbi Zalman Garelik the Rebbe’s check for the building of the Chabad House in Beer Sheva, which was sent years before he ever dreamed that he would end up as a Chabad representative in Beer Sheva.  This inspired a fundraising drive, with the central feature being a raffle among all the donors for the Rebbe’s check.

It turns out that even now the Rebbe finds ways of answering us and even sends a dollar for blessings and success, as in earlier times.

On Pesach 2011, the Chabad House inaugurated the new building which took seven years to build.  The three-story building is in the center of Beer Sheva and consists of an active shul with three daily minyanim for Shacharis, Mincha, and two minyanim for Maariv.  There is a men’s mikva, a hall where events for the community and holiday events for the residents of the city take place.  There is a women’s learning program, the biggest library for children in the south of the country with over 1000 books, an active service center and a Judaica shop.  The Chabad House is a central hub for all matters Jewish and is working to prepare Beer Sheva to greet Moshiach.


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