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Thursday
Jan222015

ANASH-SHLICHUS: Asher Meshulam

 

“Whoever notices us as we work gets exposed to some Jewish message, especially our regular customers. Hundreds of offices in the towers already know the “Chabadnikim from the windows.” They already know to expect us when we pop up from the other side of the window. We often pop inside too. They ask questions and we try to supply each of them with whatever they need.”

Name: Asher Meshulam

Age: 31

Married with two children

Location: Rosh HaAyin

Occupation: Owner of Cleandowsa high-rise window cleaning service company

Forget for a moment everything you know about Rosh HaAyin. For some time now, Rosh HaAyin is no longer Rechov Rabbi Sholom Shabazi, with two-story houses, the yards, and home extensions and shuls in every third house. In the past two decades, Rosh HaAyin has spread forth east and west, north and south and upward. New neighborhoods have sprouted and attracted demographics to the city that are solid, established and highly educated.

R’ Asher Meshulam operates in a number of these neighborhoods; more precisely, in Givat Tal and nearby neighborhoods. By day, you can find him suspended between heaven and earth on scaffolding as he descends the side of a high rise building in Tel Aviv in his job cleaning windows of high rise buildings. At night he gives a shiur to a dozen academics who listen avidly to his shiur like first year students.

Tell us about Givat Tal and your work there.

Givat Tal is a neighborhood where most of the population is well-established and left-leaning. Our role is to be a lighthouse. We simply try to light up our environment. Those who seek light gather round.

We run a shul in the center of the neighborhood. There was a shul here when we arrived and the congregation warmly welcomed us. We gave it a serious push. Every Shabbos there are t’fillos, shiurim and farbrengens. On Thursdays, we arrange farbrengens in a lighter style for young people. The inviting atmosphere of the shul is well-known in the neighborhood and the number of attendees keeps on growing. In addition, we arrange massive outreach on the holidays, mivtzaim on Fridays and more, in collaboration with the local Chabad House which is run by R’ Binyamin Akiva.

Rosh HaAyin is not exactly a hothouse of Chassidus. How did you get there?

My wife is from here. We got married, and after a year in kollel in Tzfas, we wanted to move to the center of the country. Rosh HaAyin was one of the options and we ended up here.

How were you received?

Very nicely. One of the first shiurim I started took place in the home of a person in the neighborhood. It turned out he was active in the Meretz movement (a left-wing, secular party that believes, among other unacceptable things, in dismantling most of the Israeli settlements on the West Bank). He invited his friends, and there I was, giving an ongoing shiur in Chassidus to members of the branch of Meretz in Rosh HaAyin.

Last Rosh HaShana, the local Meretz leader who holds a seat under the auspices of the party on the city council invited the entire group to her house. We went for the blowing of the shofar. There were over twenty people there and it was very moving.

SHLICHUS AT WORK

Our company cleans windows of high rise buildings. We work our way down the side of the building with special equipment. Among our customers are luxury tower buildings and skyscrapers in Gush Dan. Our line of work is not typical among religious Jews and certainly not among chareidim. When we get astonished looks from people who see us from the other side of the window we take the opportunity to talk about Judaism or to convey a message of Geula.

We once did Ehud Barak’s building. When we arrived at the lobby, Ehud Barak suddenly walked out from the building’s pool. He was taken aback at seeing us and praised us for being “working chareidim” as he put it. We took the opportunity and began talking to him about the imminent Geula.

Whoever notices us as we work gets exposed to some Jewish message, especially our regular customers. Hundreds of offices in the towers already know the “Chabadnikim from the windows.” They already know to expect us when we pop up from the other side of the window. We often pop inside too. They ask questions and we try to supply each of them with whatever they need.

Every week I send all my customers and the tenants of the buildings where I work a short text message on the parsha with a brief message about the Geula.

Recently there was a glitch and the text wasn’t sent. When I arrived at the office of one of my customers, he was on the phone with his wife and he told her I had arrived. I then heard the woman’s voice on the speakerphone shouting, “Tell them we’re canceling all our business with them. They aren’t serious … How come they didn’t send the parsha text? I’ve been waiting for it all week! Have some consideration …”

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