The local trend of mixing religious and secular personalities to examine Jewish tradition continues at a two-day conference at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan this week that offers a fresh take on Yom Kippur. Entitled A Time of Mercy, the Wednesday through Thursday conference features speakers from a diverse array of fields. Ex- Knesset member Yossi Sarid and Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv (and former Israel chief rabbi) Yisrael Meir Lau are among the many scheduled to address the audience.
A highlight of Wednesday's program will be a 6 p.m. panel discussion entitled "The Redemption of Prisoners," participants of which will include Haim Avraham (father of slain kidnapped soldier Benny Avraham), ex-MK Geulah Cohen, and army radio's Nitzan Chen.
Also on Wednesday, mysticism enthusiasts can gain insight into ever-popular Rav Nachman's spiritual teachings on the holiday in a lecture by Dr. Zvi Marks at 11:30 a.m. As a former lawmaker, Sarid will discusses how the concept of "Sins of Rulers" is relevant to him, at 1 p.m. Former high court judge Dalia Dorner, Bar-Ilan head Prof. Moshe Kaveh, and eminent playwright Yehoshua Sobel share their perspectives on "Sins Committed in Private and in Public" at 2:30 p.m.
The day draws to a close with singer Dudu Alhar and the Ariel Brothers' moving performance Lord of Forgiveness, a concert dedicated to the IDF and their families.
Ramat Gan chief and one of the spiritual leaders of the national religious sector, Rabbi Ya'acov Ariel, will be opening Thursday's proceedings with an analysis of "Repentance in the Modern World" at 10 a.m. Haaretz's David Landau and Reshet Shidurins's Motti Sklar are among the editors accounting for their deeds at a 4 p.m. panel on "Media Influence and Responsibility." Another alternative for 4 p.m. is a lecture comparing the current conflict and the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Thursday evening's performance, entitled The Gate of Mercy, features Meir Banai.
There will be a number of lectures in English as well, such as examining "The Meaning of Life from a Jewish Bioethical perspective" (Thursday at 11:30 a.m.) or weighing "The Contradictions between Torah and Science" (same time on Wednesday).
Both evenings round off with the recitation of Slichot at 11 p.m. For those not tired out from their day of learning, there is also the option of two moonlit trips. The Bucharian Tour runs from midnight to 3 p.m. It follows in the footsteps of the first immigrants from that faraway region, ending up at a Slichot service at a Bucharian synagogue in Tel Aviv. Jerusalem of Old features a guided tour of the city's Morasha neighborhood, with Slichot at the Western Wall.
For more information about tickets and prices for the various lectures and tours, call (02) 679-4412; (03) 531-7222 or visit www.makom-tour.co.il