With the constant threat of Palestinian terror, America’s war with Iraq looming large, and Israelis cautioned to carry gas masks at all time, tension in Israel is at an all time high. But, says Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin, director of Jewish Educational Media, “There are constructive ways in which we can offer reassurance and make a difference for Israel’s future.”
Shmotkin, working with a team of JEM producers, recently launched “Peace Upon the Land.Org”, a website dedicated to spreading the Rebbe’s message about the situation in Israel. Culled from various published talks, recorded conversations and publicized messages of the Rebbe in the weeks surrounding the first Gulf War, in January of 1991, the website both inspires and challenges.
“The Rebbe’s message is really twofold,” Shmotkin says. “On the one hand, the Rebbe emphasized Israel’s constant divine protection and assured safety, and on the other, counseled people to do their part in keeping the land safe by increasing in the observance of Mitzvot.”
That latter, Shmotkin notes, is of particular relevance outside of Israel. “People feel helpless,” he says. “Peace Upon the Land aims to give both a sense of assurance and a sense of purpose—there is something you can do to change the situation.”
The website is an offshoot of a video by the same name, produced by Shmotkin and his team two years ago, documenting the Rebbe’s position on issues facing Israel’s security beginning with the Six Day War in ’67 to the Gulf War in ’91. The Rebbe’s message of hope and assurance, Shmotkin says, is entirely relevant to Israel’s current situation.
Featuring a six-minute segment of the original video in which the Rebbe emphasized Torah study, prayer, charity, and Shabbat, the website offers concrete suggestions for helping to improve the situation in Israel through increased observance in these specific areas.
On the web for only two weeks, JEM reports that response to the site has been “phenomenal.” With several thousand hits a day, mostly through word-of-mouth, Shmotkin expects those numbers to grow significantly in the coming weeks, as the website is advertised on various Jewish websites, notably The Jerusalem Post Online and others.
“Encountering the Rebbe’s consistently positive message has a very encouraging affect on viewers,” he says. “It’s really what people need to hear right now.”
The original “Peace Upon The Land” 58 minute video, which includes archived footage of early talks of the Rebbe, is available by calling Jewish Educational Media at 718 774 6000 or Merkos Publications at 718 778 0226.
Reported by R. Wineberg