A unity march involving people from the haredi, secular and national-religious communities was staged on Thursday with participants walking together from Ramat Gan to Bnei Brak as an expression of a will for greater harmony between the often divided sectors of society.

Intercommunal tensions – especially with the haredi community – have been unusually high over the past year and in recent months, in large part due to political fights between the government and the haredi Knesset factions, in particular over legislation for haredi conscription.

This is the second year that the march was staged. It was organized by several groups, including Gesher, an NGO dedicated to greater cohesion and understanding between the haredi and nonreligious communities, as well as Plugta, a similar group from the haredi sector.

Approximately 400 marchers gathered at Ramat Gan Stadium at 12 p.m. and reached Bnei Brak’s municipal council administrative offices at 2 p.m., where the participants took part in roundtable discussions on the need for greater understanding between different parts of Israel’s population.

“We aim to create a common dialogue and enhance mutual understanding between different communities, and the march is a physical manifestation of Gesher’s year-round efforts, said Gesher chairman Daniel Goldman.

Marchers bore banners with slogans saying “Love your neighbor as yourself,” “We love you,” and “The Jewish people want unity.”

“We can live differently,” said the event organizers. “We don’t have to agree with each other, but we can learn to get along better than we do.”

“We are a small country that needs to work much more on internal peace before we do so with our neighbors,” said Gesher director Ilan Gal-Dor.

“This march shows that it is possible to work to bridge the divides between us and even to live together,” he continued.

“This march of brotherly unity helps create a sense of satisfaction that we’ve done something small in order to try heal the wounds in society.”

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