Thousands of residents of Rishon LeZion, representing all sectors, participated in a Tefillah rally Shabbos morning to protest against the holding of a mass missionary event in the city.
The Tefillah, including Shacharis, Mussaf and Torah reading, concluded with inspirational singing, with lyrics beseeching G-d to "purify our hearts" and recalling how "we all came together [at Sinai] in one covenant."
On Friday, Yad L'Achim sent cars with loudspeakers throughout the city urging people to attend the rally and express their fierce opposition to the missionaries.
The wall-to-wall opposition to the missionaries led the municipality, headed by Mayor Dov Tzur, to oppose giving the missionary organization permission to use a city facility to hold their event. However, the court overruled them, ordering them make the facility available to the cult, free of charge.
On Friday night, Yad L'Achim activists went from shul to shul. Different groups were headed by Rabbi Chanoch Gechtman, the head of the organization's counter-missionary department, Rabbi Binyamin Vulcan, Yad L'Achim's field coordinator, and Rabbi Yisrael Reisner, who delivered inspiring talks about the importance of attending the rally.
On Shabbos morning, the area where the missionary event was to be held was overflowing with a huge crowd comprising members of dozens of shuls. They were headed by the Rav of the city, Hagaon Harav Valfa, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Fisher, Harav Ben Tzion Chachamov, Hagaon Harav Shmuel Toledano, the Rav of the Chabad community in Rishon Lezion Hagaon Harav Mordechai Tzvi Dubrawsky, Harav Yoel Rozen, and more.
Also contributing to the success of the Tefillah rally was the local religious council, headed by Mr. David Shilo.
In addition to thousands of Torah- and mitzvah-observers there were hundreds of secular Jews who came to express solidarity with the struggle and their disgust with the miss
ionaries. Secular city council members who participated in the event said they had never seen anything like it and were moved by the sight of so many people coming together in such a display of unity and holiness.
Yad L'Achim noted that hundreds of people from across the country spent Shabbos with family in Rishon LeZion so that they could take part in the mass Tefillah. The organization praised the activists of United Torah Judaism and Shas in the city, as well as city council member Meir Akiva, who supported Yad L'Achim in its efforts to recruit people for the event.
As a result of the overwhelming turnout, resulting in a major Kiddush Hashem, the police decided to cancel the missionary event to the bitter disappointment of its organizers.
Yad L'Achim revealed that during the Tefillah rally, members of its counter-missionary department contacted two Jewish women, Holocaust survivors, whose foreign workers had convinced them to undergo baptism at the event. After Yad L'Achim explained to them the seriousness of the matter, the women decided to pull out of the gathering and participate in a series of sessions aimed at bringing them back to their roots.