Mayor Yaakov Asher Of Bnei Brak Visits New York


yaakov-asherYaakov Asher, the newly elected mayor of Bnei Brak, home to one the largest concentration of observant Jews in the world is visiting the United States for the first time since assuming office. Mayor Asher is introducing the recent establishment of the Development Fund for Bnei Brak. The fund seeks to attract foreign investment to Bnei Brak for projects that will enhance the quality of life for its residents, both current and future.

After 20 years of exemplary public service, with no challenge having been too big or too small for his attention, combined with unparalleled devotion to the needs of every person that knocked on his door, Yakov Asher was elected mayor of Bnei Brak with wall-to-wall support its leaders and its constituency, literally without opposition.

His first two major goals are to lead the city into economic independence by promoting the building of high-rise apartment buildings in its northern part, centers of industry and commerce, as well as the creation of a development fund, modeled after that founded by the celebrated mayor of Jerusalem (1965-1993), the legendarily productive Teddy Kollek, a”h (1911-2007). Through this fund donors from around the world that appreciate the importance of preserving a precious Torah city, will lend support to its work of improving the general welfare, education, and overall quality of life enterprises.

Special emphasis is being placed on vocational training as well as on children’s day-care services, both of which will enable much needed income earning opportunities for the citizens of Bnei Brak.

With recent pronouncements from the Belzer Rebbe and others, promoting entry into the work force, combined with innovative industry adaptations to sensitivities of the observant community, the number of its members gainfully employed has risen impressively, and continues to rise. According to Ezra Friedlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group, representing the Bnei Brak Fund, the visit of Mayor Asher will allow him to meet with important communal and business leaders from across the broad spectrum of the Jewish community.

Hopefully, this effort will create interest in the new entity concentrating on initiating and partnering projects with potential investors, especially focusing on efforts that will increase recreation and special education for Beni Brak.

Synonymous with the timeless values of Jewish tradition, Bnei Brak boasts a myriad of chassidic centers, shuls, famous yeshivos; many describe it as the capital of chesed in the Land of Israel. Additionally, the vast majority of the New York Jewish community shares a close kinship with Bnei Brak both familial and communal. It is with these statistics that great anticipation is being generated towards the maiden trip of Mayor Asher to the United States.

Rabbi Akiva, zt”l (85-135 CE), renowned Talmudic scholar, lived in Bnei Brak. Our study of Mishnah and Talmud today is directly attributable to the systemization of Talmudic literature, later codified by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, zt”l (135-219 CE). We meet Rabbi Akiva at every Passover Seder when we read about his conduct of the Seder in Bnei Brak that lasted all night.

Today’s Bnei Brak is believed to be less than three miles north of its ancient site. The current Bnei Brak was established in 1924 as an observant community. Rabbi Aryeh Mordechai Rabinowitz, zt”l, was it’s first Rav succeeded by Rabbi Yosef Zvi Kalish, zt”l (1886-1957), who was appointed in 1937. Rabbi Yosef Cohen, zt”l, is also identified as one of its early rabbis. Rabbi Yaakov Landau, zt”l (1893-1986), served as Rav in Bnei Brak from 1936-1986, with great distinction. He was universally respected by all segments of society. His kashrus certification was accepted by all. His son and successor, Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Landau, has earned the same stature.

Notable rabbonim and gedolim who have lived in Bnei Brak are Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, zt”l (1879‑1953), renowned author of Chazon Ish; Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager, zt”l (1888‑1872), Vishnitzer Rebbe; Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky, zt”l (1899-1985), Steipler Rav in Bnei Brak and revered author of Kehilas Yaakov; Rabbi Elazar Menachem Mann Shach, zt”l (1894‑2001), revered Ponovez Rosh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak; amongst many others. Towering rabbinic personalities residing in Bnei Brak include: Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman; Rabbi Shmuel Wosner, revered author of Shevet Levi; Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky; and Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, Vishnitzer Rebbe.{ Newscenter-Dovid Bernstein}