A unique seminar was held in the Village of Kiryas Joel on the obligations of “dina d’malchusah dina,” the Torah’s imperative to follow the laws of one’s home country. Last week, an estimated crowd of over 1,000 attendees filled the Paradise Hall to capacity to hear a diverse list of speakers address the topic.
“It was a tremendous kiddush Hashem,” one of the organizers told Hamodia. “Because there is so much to know and it can be complicated, we wanted to take a proactive step in educating the community.”
Yitzchok Schwartz, who served as chairman of the event, introduced the topic and emphasized the proper role that social services should serve in the community. He illustrated his point with the parable of a young man who walks into the pharmacy asking for a long list of medications, but no prescription. When asked why he needs the items he responds, “This is what my father takes.”
“People should know that unless you absolutely need to, there is no reason to start yourself off as a nitzrach (one in need).”
Several prominent askanim from Kiryas Joel touched on an array of practical topics and cases and attorney Mr. Jack Laufer, discussed issues related to banks and mortgages.
Lakewood committeeman, Mr. Meir Lichtenstein drew particular interest as he discussed the emotional energy that askanim put into trying to help the community navigate dealings with local and broader government affairs.
A particularly unique perspective was added by Orange County legislator Michael Amo, who spoke about the need for a village that “sticks out” like Kiryas Joel to be especially cautious in their dealings with general society, saying that since “not everybody appreciates” the town’s lifestyle even innocent mistakes can attract unwanted attention.
The event was organized by Bais Neeman, a Kiryas Joel-based organization that helps prepare chassanim in establishing their new homes. The illage authorities heard of the education available on appropriate use of social services given as part of their budgeting coaching and asked if it could be packaged as a seminar for the whole community.
“The feedback has been unbelievable,” the organizer told Hamodia. “It’s created a lot more awareness and we are looking for a way to take this initiative to the next level.”