From Baseless Hatred to Baseless Love
The Yachad Program for Jewish Identity operated meaningful Tisha B’Av programming throughout Israel designed to bring contemporary relevance to a seemingly archaic Jewish observance
As Israel prepares for its second round of elections, it seems that hatred, stereotypes, and rifts among different segments of the population have never been higher. The media is full of animosity and corruption, and descriptions of the social and political environments on the eve of the temple’s destructions do not seem too far from the present.
But in the days leading up to Tisha B’Av, OTS’s Yachad Program for Jewish Identity brought together thousands of Israelis from North to South to partake in acts of love as the antidote to the baseless hatred that caused the destruction of the Temple.
The destruction of the Temple, which is commemorated on Tisha B’Av, is on the surface an event that holds little significance to the average contemporary Israeli. But as tradition teaches that the Temple was destroyed due to widespread hatred and intolerance, the Yachad coordinators created innovative activities and platforms for dialogue to show how relevant it still is, allowing participants to connect to their history and heritage on a deeply personal level.
Under the guidance of Yachad’s 48 Jewish Identity Coordinators working in 108 community centers across Israel, people of all ages and backgrounds spread love and kindness while learning about the past, understanding its application to the present, and hopefully creating a better future.
In Ma’alot, teens participated in a chocolate-making workshop, distributing their finished goods to local gardening and sanitation workers. In Hazor, children showed their gratitude to soldiers on their way home from their bases with flowers and notes for Shabbat, showing their gratitude for the soldiers’ service. In Haifa, a special exhibit displayed recreations of the temple vessels, alongside stories and a play that connected families to temple rituals and pilgrimages. All over Israel, Israelis
Our Guide Book to a Better Future
On the eve of Tisha B’Av, thousands gathered in public halls, parks, and community centers large and small to read the book of Lamentations while mourning the destruction and exile that befell unto our people. Many of these readings were followed by panel discussions featuring various rabbis, Members of Knesset, and social activists from across the religious and political spectrum.
In Yokneam, facilitator Shlomit Weber brought together local religious and secular youth for roundtable discussion on the topic of love and acceptance. In the Givat Massuah neighborhood of Jerusalem, facilitator Racheli Semo conducted a very meaningful outdoor gathering that included a stirring candlelit reading of Megillat Eicha, followed by participant-led poetry reading on the theme of destruction in contemporary society. “No one wanted the evening to end,” said Menucha Dahan, a local resident. “At the end, a group gathered around a tree and engaged in philosophical discussion that continued through the night.”
Other special activities included a Jerusalem documentary screening of Ethiopian Jews on their way to the holy land; an all-women discussion panel in Kadima; a nighttime oil-lamp tour of Yodfat, the ancient site of the Roman siege on Josephus Flavius in 67AD; and an activity in Petach Tikva in which 80 children constructed a Temple model out of 25,000 miniature pieces of Lego.
“It feels like most people just want to do the talking these days, as if they are the sole owners of the truth” shared Lital, a participant from Beit Shean.
“It was refreshing to come together with people who were truly interested in listening to what the other had to say for a change. I myself don’t exactly observe everything in the Torah,” she continued, “but I do ultimately believe that it is our guide book to a better future for our children. The message that we read in Eicha is something that really spoke to me- if you take all of your blessings for granted, and stop doing good deeds, really bad things will happen. This is a message that I know will stay with me for a long time, and I am extremely grateful to Yachad for enabling me to have a seat at the table to share it with others.”