A brief history of the "Kol Haneshama" community by: Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kalman, the founder of the community
The community was "born" in my home in the spring of 1984. After my family and I left Kibbutz Gezer, I asked to establish an egalitarian spiritual community that emphasized social justice.
Together with friends we started keeping a weekly minyan in our living room. The word spread among the community around us and the number kept growing. Paula Raieti received the synagogue that was built in our living room with mixed feelings.
Before the terrible days, we were allowed to pray at the Labor Party club which was then located on Mordechai Yehudi Street. Over a hundred worshipers came to the "Kol Nadri" prayer. The neighborhood rabbis (the late Rabbi Orbach was the Ashkenazi rabbi and Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil who was and still is the Sephardic rabbi)
pressured the party activists to "kick" us out of the club. The neighborhood committee of Bekaa, the pioneer of neighborhood organizing, invited us to move Pray at the community center on Issachar Street.
The community continued to develop and grow and when the terrible days came again we had to move to the sports hall of the community center. Over two hundred worshipers filled the hall and the number that started in my living room was for the largest synagogue in the neighborhood.
At Simchat Torah that year, the community made headlines. The local Sephardi rabbi, Eliyahu Abergel, and thirty of his followers of all ages broke into the sports hall in the midst of the laps. In front of their amazed eyes they saw women dancing with Torah scrolls. Rabbi Abergel was furious and for years his supporters decided to "save" the Torah books. We managed to protect our books and our honor by expelling the invaders without violence, while singing songs of peace and love. To this day, when we reach the seventh round of Simchat Torah, we remember this event and move from rhythmic songs to quieter songs.
The late Teddy Kolek, the mayor of Jerusalem at the time, heard about the events of Simchat Torah, and as an appropriate response to the violence that was used against us, he promised to find a place where we could build our own house of prayer. At the corner of Harevet St. and Asher St. stood a small, abandoned stone building which was located in the middle of a huge lot (which was a quarry at the time). The municipality leased us the building and we renovated it. On Saturdays and holidays we prayed in it and during the week we turned it into a kindergarten and a center for community activities.
This is how the community "All Soul" developed from a place of worshipers to a community and spiritual center. In order to fulfill the many community needs it became clear to us that we would need a bigger building and we built the current building (which also became too small for us). The scope of the activity is also reflected in the growing team. In the first years, the professional staff included many, and only a part-time secretary. Today, the community is run by committees of volunteers from among the members and companies of the community who work in close collaboration with the professional staff that includes educators and administration.
Today, the community is a home for its members, a Jewish cultural center where families mark events of the Jewish life cycle, teenagers and children fill the halls, and the general public who joins in prayers, classes and cultural events, together create a spiritual atmosphere.
The special style of the prayers attracts a large crowd from all over the world. Audience participation, the warm and open atmosphere, loyalty to tradition and commitment to progressive values are the elements that characterize our prayer. The communal deep breathing, the awareness of the connection between the breath and the soul shape a spiritual atmosphere. The kindergarten children running around my feet, invite every worshiper to relax and open up to prayer and music. The Lehma project, the KEEP program, the social activity, the members of "Magan", the daycare center for disabled adults, who join the prayer activities, help us expand the meaning of the concept of community. The community's desire for peace and equality is reflected in the recitation of the prayer for peace in Hebrew and Arabic at the end of each prayer.
In 2018, Rabbi Levi Weiman - Kalman, the founder of the community, retired from his position as the rabbi of the community, he and Paula continue to accompany us with love. Much Yael Kriya served as rabbi of the community after him and towards Rosh Hashanah ,תש״פ (September 2019) Rabbi Oded Mazor took up the position.
We went through the Corona years together and we continue to create, renew and flourish!