24 May 2012
Thousands of Israelis will participate in 15 NIF-funded study sessions for the Jewish festival of Shavuot. This is the second year in which NIF has organized the nationwide project entitled "Tikkun Olam on Shavuot Eve," which aims to promote pluralism and tolerance and relate Jewish tradition to contemporary issues.
The events will reflect the diverse mix of Israeli society and will bring together Orthodox, secular, Conservative and Reform communities; youth and the elderly; new immigrants and veteran Israelis. As with last year's events, social justice in Jewish tradition will be high on the agenda. Women’s rights in a time of gender segregation will also be explored following a reading of the book of Ruth, which is traditionally read during the Shavuot synagogue service. Another topic will focus on acceptance of foreigners amid increasing attacks on Israeli refugees and foreign workers.
The central event is a study session at the Jerusalem Cinematheque where a long list of speakers will include NIF International Council Chair and Board Member Talia Sasson; Jerusalem Council member Rachel Azaria, who has been in the forefront of the struggle against gender segregation; Dasash Tahi, who will discuss the Ethiopian Jewish community's struggle against racism in Israel; and popular hip-hop Hadag Nachash lead singer Shaanan Street.
Other events will include a study session for Russian speakers sponsored by NIF grantee Fishka Club, and an event celebrating the increasing number of Israelis studying Judaism in conjunction with Bet Ha’Am in Tel Aviv.
NIF Israel Executive Director Rachel Liel said, "There is something very attractive and right about this connection between the ancient Orthodox custom and its modern, contemporary implementation. It is also a very encouraging illustration of the possibility of a successful synthesis between Israeli-ness and Judaism, between traditional values and cultural values, and between past, present and future."
She added, "NIF is committed to the advancement of pluralism and tolerance in Judaism, and for over 30 years has been supporting organizations of all denominations that work toward developing and enhancing pluralistic Jewish identity. NIF supports initiatives of secular, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist streams who work to promote this goal, and seeks to promote a discourse of tolerance in Israel."