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General Meeting 17-Feb-2008


17 FEBRUARY, 2008

Meeting commenced at 15:30 and was chaired by Gloria Mound.

Special welcomes were accorded to Maurice Singer of the Jewish Agency and Ambassador Shlomo Morgan and a number of other members who haven’t attended previous AGM’s. Condolences were expressed on the passing of our valued member and volunteer Shmuel Gadiel, who was the accountant for Casa Shalom for many years.

The minutes of the last AGM were read and approved being proposed by Norma Remez and seconded  by Danby Meital. Apologies for absence were received by Board members, including from the Chairman of the Board, Mr.  Elie Schalit,  Mr. Mordechai Arbel  and Mr.Michael Glatzer, of  the Ben Zvi Institute.Board member, Neil Davis, was cited as  a most generous benefactor and staunch supporter of the Amuta. He sent his regrets to Casa Shalom for being unable to attend the AGM, but praised our work and was especially impressed in what we have accomplished in the past year.  Committee members, Barbara and Jeremy Pfeffer, Esther Valencia, as well as a number of overseas members also extended their apologies.

The Chairman gave special thanks and appreciation to Nita Hernandz, Hadas Dubler, Esther Valencia and Ruth Reyes, the latter having recently joined this special group of research volunteers. They give invaluable assistance in advancing the work of Casa Shalom.  Thanks were also extended to Secretary. Sylvia Zilberberg, who so ardently works on behalf of the Institute.

The Certified Public Accountant, Naftali Zilberberg, submitted financial reports for the years 2005, 2006. Board member Yitzhak Kerem, suggested that expenses of printing the highly esteemed Journal be detailed in future reports as a separate item. Ambassador Morgan inquired about monies mentioned as being owed to Leslie Mound. The chairman explained that Leslie usually lays out the money in advance if necessary and is then reimbursed.

The chairman spoke about her concern of the depreciation of the US Dollar which is affecting the Amuta's  income. The mortgage crisis in the U.S. has already neutralized some of our faithful supporters, including one of the most prestigious university libraries in the U.S.,  due to cutbacks. As a result of increased interest and inquiries we have to seriously consider in the near future, hiring someone to train to eventually take over from her. This  would of course, require paying a  starting salary of at least NIS 5 - 7,000, per month, unlike Gloria and Leslie, who do not receive any remuneration. It was stressed that present members could be our “ambassadors” in recruiting vitally needed new support.

The Casa Shalom Library was cited by the chairman, as being a very extensive one and is now famous and we receive worldwide inquiries . Thanks to generous support received this past year, we have  updated our computers to the extent that anyone visiting the library now has a computer with which to work. Example of our efficient data base : a young man from Honduras, received information about ancestors based on documentation found in the library which traced back to 1520.

Several members present expressed reservations regarding the lack of actual assistance  the Jewish Agency’s Shlichim, are giving in the many countries where they operate. The chairman reminded those present that  in 2006, being very much aware of this situation, we had been requested by the Jewish Agency to write a directive report on this serious matter, for them. We were informed by Mr. Zeev Bielsky’s, Director’s main assistant, that this advice would be distributed to all the Schlichim, worldwide.  We, ourselves, clearly stated in the report, that our offices were at their disposal, should they need help from any inquirers because due to their lack of knowledge in dealing with this question of Anusim, we are losing many thousands  of potential Olim. With deep regret, the Chairman  stated that we have not received any feedback from any of the Shlichim, anywhere and it was agreed that we should send a further protest on this matter to the Jewish Agency. Maurice Singer explained that they are dependent on Government resources  and policy in order to be able to aid in this matter. Members conveyed their opinion and dismay about the weakness of this government organization.

Isaac Mazouz, in house lawyer of Casa Shalom reported of  problems he experienced in  helping Anusim. He gave an example of  Nita Hernandz  whose case was taken to the Supreme Court and  we won. We, here at Casa Shalom had the proof  that she is Jewish, however, certain Rabbis are very adverse to helping in these matters. This attitude is contrary to Jewish Law. Unfortunately, there are many problems with the Rabbinate in dealing with conversion and recognizing people as Jews under the Law of Return. An example was cited of  Ruth Reyes, an American whose ancestors hail from Puerto Rico,  having recently discovered that she is  actually Jewish, after making inquiries within her family. She is presently studying here in Israel to increase her knowledge of her Jewish heritage and with the strength of our data base we have applied to the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem for her Certificate of Return.

Isaac Mazouz  depolored  that many Rabbis are not sufficiently interested in helping Anusim.  Shlomo Morgan admitted that for  the Government of Israel the problems of the Anusim is not a high priority. Many present, requested that protestation should be made to these bodies because The Ministry of Interior in many cases will not renew visas which would help these people in the middle of conversion. They frequently prefer exercising a policy of deportation.   

It was unanimously voted  that Bruriah Perez will be on the Control Committee, as well as
Mr. Jeremy Pfeffer.  The Executive Committee remains unaltered.
Several members expressed appreciation of the Sephardi Musical Evening, June 24,2007, which was very enjoyable and an excellent fund raiser.  We were requested to repeat such  events in the future. It was mentioned that the  DVD’S  of the Evening  were much appreciated, are still available at US 10.00 including postage (NIS 50.00).

Thanks were expressed to the host and hostess of the meeting and refreshments were served.

Meeting adjourned 17:00.

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