I am grateful to be in a position to report a few wondrous events within the Jewish Outreach Project at this year’s American National Rainbow Gathering.

This Gathering was a blessed confirmation of all the effort invested over the years and the connecting tissue for past, present and future. My brother and partner for 10 years in the Rainbow effort is Zev Padway. Zev took over complete operations for Jerusalem Camp after I stepped down in 2004 and established the Rainbow Zion Camp. The night before I arrived at the forest in Arkansas, Zev’s mother passed away. This assured that there would be no kosher kitchen and center for Shabbat.

I was prepared with neither enough funding, food or kitchen infrastructure to fully pick up the slack and there is little kosher food in Arkansas. Having arrived at the forest two hours before Shabbat on June 22nd, all I could do was pray that for the main Shabbat a week later, HaShem would open up gates and miracles could take place.

It didn’t take long. Upon arrival, the first person I encountered was a Bat Ayin student, Baruch, who first was turned on to Yiddishkeit at my camp in Michigan in 2002, He has been learning in Bat Ayin for 3 years. He arrived with some basic equipment for a small, personal kosher kitchen.

Three days before the big Shabbat, a young Chabad brother showed up with some food and dollars. With the cooperation of a handful of others who arrived looking for JCamp, we built a cooking kitchen, provisions and equipment were acquired and an amazing Shabbat feast including 15 challah’s and hundreds of rolls were baked in the forest. This all transpired over 36 hours.

For Friday night, over two hundred people came to Rainbow Zion Camp to daven, sing, learn and feast as never before in Rainbow. We met Jews who have never encountered Yiddishkeit before, Jews who left and began to find a reason to return and a solid group who will come to Israel to learn.

For myself, to witness that the lynchpin to making this Shabbat success happen, was first turned onto to Shabbat at my camp, came to learn in the Yeshiva I co-Founded and returned to bring Shabbat and Yiddishkeit to other’s is the proof of the imperative of this project.

But it didn’t end there.

Rainbow Zion was established as a ‘kabalistic healing tea camp.’ It was designed to attract those who are searching and in need of something redemptive in their lives. It proved to be an awesome Kiddush HaShem.

A young woman of 18, camping in our camp, came down with bacterial spinal meningitis. This form is virulent and if not properly treated, chas v’shalom, will cause paralysis and worse.

My chevre created a quarantined tent and administered water and electrolytes, food, transport to the latrine and all that suggests for 72 hours. And more importantly, gave this young woman, the love and comfort and faith that was essential to her recovery.

At that time we had no diagnosis. There were no medical doctors on site yet. After 72 hours of this vigil, her situation worsened. Baruch woke me at 6:00AM, after finally having gone to sleep at 5:15AM, reporting that she was screaming in agony with pain in her neck. I told him that she needed to be evacuated to the nearest hospital immediately.

Baruch and 3 others, carried her the two miles out of the forest and Baruch drove her to the nearest hospital. She was airlifted to Little Rock and followed by car and stayed with her until she miraculously turned the corner and three days later was released from the hospital.

It is important to realize that all those involved took great risks to their own health and well being. Indeed 16 of us had to take a special anti-biotic to prevent us from catching this disease. As a result of our work and the basic healing first-aid station we had established, the Rainbow leaders decided to locate the field medical unit at Rainbow Zion. Our chevre built the infrastructure in one day.

The mesirat nefesh and the service provided by our chevre, with joy and with love and humility and serious, sober-minded focus, was awesome to behold. The Kiddush HaShem was evident with every expression of thanks, gratitude and wonder.

And my pride has never been greater. And my gratitude to all those who have supported the Rainbow kiruv project this year and past years, knows no bounds.

The Future: While too long a tale to be told here and now, allow me the following…. At the Gathering a strange Christian group made a camp. The bottom line is that this group, ‘The International House of Prayer,’ based in Kansas City, is a classic, cancerous cult. And they holding Jews prisoners in spiritual slavery. We identified at least two Jews within the cult. I came close to rescuing one, having broken through her walls and persuaded her to leave the Gathering with me and allow me to send her to Yerushalyim. However before we could secure her safety, they grabbed her.

To make a long story short, they know that they are now exposed and we have to act to rescue her and any others they have snared. I need generous support and a new infusion of funds to do this critical work, as well as the follow-up on those with whom we have begun to work as well the programs that I will be leading from Seattle, WA to Eugene, OR to Williams, OR to the Bay Area, Los Angeles and three states on the east coast over the next six weeks.

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