(photo credit: courtesy)
The Tzohar rabbinical association and the volunteer emergency and disaster
organization Zaka have teamed up to spread brotherly love as the holiday of
One of the obligations of the day is to send small
packages of food to friends, neighbors, work colleagues and anyone else one
would like to make happy.
In light of recent intercommunal tensions
between the haredi and secular worlds, Tzohar and Zaka initiated “Operation
Increase the Love,” which will enable people from secular and ultra-Orthodox
communities to send mishloah manot, as the food packages are known, to each
The intent, the organizers said, is to create a “direct connection
without intermediaries” between the two otherwise totally separated
“Purim is a festival that embodies the history of Jewish
life throughout the ages,” said Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav.
between all the parts of the people of Israel is the root and key to the
salvation of the people of Israel and the secret to its survival for thousands
of years. Mishloah Manot is one method for achieving this,” Stav
On Sunday morning, Zaka and Tzohar set up the first of several
registration posts for the initiative in Bet Shemesh, next to the Orot Banot
girls elementary school, which has been at the epicenter of much of the recent
tension between religious groups. Other registration posts will be set up around
the country in the next two weeks, and registration is also being made available
on Facebook and by telephone.
Those who take part in the event will
provide their contact details to a central hotline and will then be told ahead
of Purim who they will be giving their mishloah manot to or who will be coming
to give to them.
As well as welcoming participants from all over the
country, Tzohar will be contacting the thousands of secular couple it has helped
marry in recent years to support the initiative, and Zaka will be contacting its
volunteers, most of whom are ultra- Orthodox, to take part as well.
launch the initiative onto a national platform, Shas MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem and
Meretz MK Ilan Gilon will exchange mishloah manot packages on Monday in the
“In addition to our services honoring the dead and providing
live-saving support, Zaka has engraved on its flag the goal of kiruv achim,
bringing brothers together, [to show people] how to respect every person as he
is, to educate, and to help spread messages and values of peace and
reconciliation through volunteer activities,” said ZAKA chairman Yehuda
“In these crazy times of tensions between different
communities, and as an organization that represents consensus and unity, we
decided it is not the time to be silent and to hide ourselves away at home, but
rather to heed the eternal call of “Go, gather all the Jews,” he continued in
reference to the call to unity that Esther spoke during the events relating to
the Purim festival.
“We will open the doors of our houses, we will give
and we will receive, and in so doing show the beautiful face of the people of
Israel,” Meshi-Zahav continued.
“Instead of separation and division, we
will become closer and unite, as it is written ‘And Israel encamped there,’ as
one person with one heart.”
Rabbi Stav explained further, describing how
on Purim there is an opportunity to learn and recognize the faces of other
people that are masked during the rest of the year.
“[On Purim we seek]
to reveal the humanity, the good, and the soul that resides in all of us, and
the fact that we are all striving to be better Jews and better people,” he
“We need to show that beyond all the arguments, the common
denominator between us is greater [than the disagreements] and is also the
secret to our survival as a people.”