Previous Updates

Tu B'Av, 5758

Mintage and Pricing Update

We are extending sale of the year 50 coins at the current prices for at least six weeks. Mr Kretschmer, who is nearing retirement, was hospitalized for corrective surgery and is expected to return to work within the coming weeks. The master dies which were under preparation have reached a stage that only Mr Kretschmer can complete, so production of the year 51 Half-Shekel is running late. It is of paramount importance to us, that there always be an inexpensive Half-Shekel available, as it it written; "the poor shall give no less." Therefore, we will continue to offer the year 50 coins until the year 51's are available.

Mr Kretschmer has decided to sell the mint, machinery and goodwill, for US$295,000. This represents one year's turnover, according to Mr Kretschmer. He owns the premises, and wants to retain ownership and rent them out to the purchaser.

Reuven watching Mr Kretschmer mint the first Holy Half shekel coins

Besides our own minting needs, which, G-d willing will continue to grow, Mr Kretschmer does the minting for the Israel Government Coin and Medal Corp. (All those gold, silver, and bronze medallions you've been buying for the last three decades were minted by Mr Kretschmer), the armed services badges, ranks, and pins including the army, police, border police, airforce, navy, etc., plus his other commercial clients.

Truth be told, the machinery is primative. He has an excellent team of workers that it would be a shame to break up. When the Half-Shekel begins to really take off, there will be a need to bring in automated machinery, as the Half-Shekels are currently produced by two people, one-at-a-time. That's okay for up to 30,000 coins a month. Beyond that, its either three shifts 24 hours a day, or bring in new machinery. Even with three shifts, only 90,000 coins a month could be produced. At some point, that will not suffice, G-d willing.

Anyone interested in buying Jerusalem's mint? We would be interested in acquiring it ourselves, if there is anyone out there who would like to see us own the means of production for the Half-Shekels, we could reduce our cost of production.

Having Jerusalem's mint in Levitical hands just sounds so good.

In the meantime, we all wish Mr Kretschmer a Refuah Shleimah (A complete recovery)!

If you want further information on purchasing the mint, please write to us.

Shearith HaLishka

As we are approaching closer to next Purim, and completion of the chest for Old Shekels, we called the Jerusalem Foundation to make an appointment to discuss further their management of the Shearith HaLishka (Remainder of the Office) funds. Mr Allan Freeman, with whom I had met last year and received a positive response from, called to tell me that the Jerusalem Foundation was downsizing and not taking on projects, they weren't capable of handling it. Right.

Okay. We turn the engines on and get to work. A best of all worlds scenario gives us a Beit Din (Literally; House of Adjudication - a panel of at least three G-d fearing, extensively educated, pious Jews) whose sole function is to oversee the collection and expenditures of all the Half-Shekel funds, and later, all the Temple funds.

Lacking that option when we began, we managed to thus far secure the proceeds from the first two Trumat HaLishka> ceremonies in the safe on the second floor of the Chief Rabbinate's Office (right across the corridor from Chief Rabbi Lau's office), and thus far, the Chief Rabbis have ignored its presence in their safe.

On September 17th 1998 we will, G-d willing, perform the third and final Trumat HaLishka ceremony this year, and this time, rather than holding it in the courtyard where the chest for New Shekels is housed, we are going to have it brought to Zion Square, right in the center of downtown Jerusalem, and have the chest and the Brinks armored truck set up right in the plaza, and there, with several hundred participants, we will perform the ceremony, on "behalf of the Jews of the Diaspora," and in the presence of representatives of Diaspora communities who flew over to deposit their communities' Half-Shekels into the chest in time for the ceremony.

And G-d willing, they'll be no problem getting that lock-box full of Half-Shekels into the safe as well.

Now, eventually the Chief Rabbinate will have to pay attention to the Hekdesh in their safe -- if for no other reason than we're filling their safe up with lock-boxes full of Half-Shekels. It is a big safe, and they could ignore it for maybe another year and a half, but eventually, some day, they're going to have to deal with it, or buy an additional safe.

According to Halachah (Jewish Law), when the first of Nisan arrives next year, whatever Half-Shekels are left from the previous year's Trumat HaLishka, go to make Klei Sharret (Ministering Vessels) for the Temple, and the Kedusha (Sacredness) is transferred to the vessels.

We have already recommended to the Chief Rabbinate that the silver go to produce non-sacrificial vessels, such as silver trumpets, and have also contacted the producer of Biblical standard silver trumpets, Mr David Lloyd Perkins of Jerusalem, and suggested that he already introduce himself to the Chief Rabbinate, in order to persuade them to consider allocating the silver for trumpets, which he is prepared to produce.

Now, coming into next Purim, we will also have Shearith HaLishka funds coming out of the chest for Old Shekels. This money goes to the city of Jerusalem to prepare for the Pilgrimage festivals.

Since the Jerusalem Foundation has backed out of responsibility for the funds, we now have to find an alternative. Going back to our first best of all worlds scenario, and lacking any viable alternative, it makes sense to invest the energy in creating a Beit Din, rather than trying to find an institution with broad public trust that shares our vision, which I doubt even exists.

Worst case scenario, now that I think about it, is we'll use a different color lock-box for the Shearith HaLishka, and double the number of lock-boxes next year going into that safe. That's actually a funny thought, though at the same time sad, as it bears witness that our leaders fail to lead.

Well, this year we brought to production the Half-Shekel, restored the custom of giving it, performed two Trumat HaLishka ceremonies, built the chests for New Shekels and Old Shekels and began production of the year 51 coins. How hard can it be to seat a Beit Din? That only requires finding three Jews who can agree on something. Funny, right?

Continuing with preparations, another need arises. Presently, the chest for New Shekels is housed in a gallery in the center of town. The presence of one chest is not an inconvenience (aside from the honor of housing Hekdesh), and the offer to house it was a temporary measure until an appropriate venue could be arranged. Having two chests (even with the honor) would inconvenience the host.

In setting up a Moked Hekdesh (Hekdesh Center), where the two chests - and eventually thirteen chests - would be housed, we would need either a donated property, or money for rent, utilities, one salary (the bulk of the work to be done by Levites by roster), and security. This can not be established through small contributions, it needs to be underwritten by a single endowment that permanently establishes the Moked Hekdesh. It can be underwritten by a consortium of donars, private or public, and needs to find expression by next Purim when the second chest makes it debut.

For the workings of the Moked Hekdesh, please see the Update from Purim 5758.

Imagine the energy surrounding the Moked Hekdesh, open and operating 24 hours a day, guarding Hekdesh - Temple property, and maintaining the hi-tech network of Levitical services offered to every Jewish community worldwide via the center. It would become a focal point for transforming millenial aspirations into concrete action, a vortex where prayers become answers, dreams reality, giving Hekdesh, G-d's property, a home.

We might ask the same question as Hagai: While each of you sit in your well timbered homes, who will provide a home for Hekdesh, Temple property - that which we have returned to G-d, from amongst the property that G-d has made us custodian over?

We believe we have made this sufficiently real to now ask Am Yisrael (The People Israel) to get involved. We would like to establish this center in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. If anyone out there owns storefront property in the Jewish Quarter, and would like to dedicate it for the highest purpose possible, without relinquishing ownership, please contact us. In the meantime, a year's operating expenses are required at the very minimum. (Beged Ivri, as producer of the coins, has no contact with the donated Half-Shekels once they're given in. We will work to make sure that an independant body, whether we succeed in establishing a Beit Din or find a temporary overseer, is in place to safeguard the Hekdesh, as we have done thus far.)

What will you do when you have finished reading these words? Nothing or something?

Tens of thousands of you have visited our website, thousands of you have purchased Half-Shekels, hundreds of you have given them in. Its a reality. Let's take it higher.

Good Purim! Great Purim!