Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett sits on the floor to read the Book of Lamentations at an event commemorating Tisha Be’av in Shoham on Saturday night..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett advised incoming Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog at a Tisha Be’av event in Shoham Saturday night to do everything possible to ensure Jewish continuity.
“The only thing that keeps me awake at night is the future of the Jews of the Diaspora,” Bennett said at the event, which was chaired by Rabbi David Stav. “If we do not act with urgency, we will lose millions of Jews in the Diaspora in the next generation. There are two words that act as a compass for my life: ‘Jewish continuity,’ in the State of Israel and in the Diaspora.”
Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) spoke about Tisha Be’av within the context of current events, noting Friday’s Hamas sniper fire that killed an Israeli soldier
on the border with the Gaza Strip.
“The entire nation is united this evening in terrible mourning for St.-Sgt. Aviv Levy, of Petah Tikva,” he said. “Anyone reading the Book of Lamentations tonight is well aware of the price our people paid when we did not have a state, and Aviv’s death reminds us of the price we pay so we will have a state.”
After the reading of Lamentations, Bennett spoke during a discussion titled, “The Foundations of a National Home.” He said he has learned over time to accept other opinions and understand that he “does not have the whole truth in my pocket.”
“When I was a child, it was said that baseless hatred caused the state’s destruction, and I thought that these were folklore stories,” he said. “As I get older, I understand that only because of baseless hatred did we lose the Jewish state we had. Whatever will be, we must remember that we will not have another chance to live here together. We have to fight at any price, and in every situation, for the unity of the people. Even the most difficult things – we will not allow them to tear the people apart.”
Herzog said at the event that the lessons of the destructions of the two holy Temples in Jerusalem on Tisha Be’Av must be learned.
“There is no better time than Tisha Be’Av to recognize the dangers of the divide between Israel and the Diaspora and do everything possible to prevent it in every way. For that, there must be courage and open minds on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Herzog, who will leave his posts as opposition leader and Zionist Union MK on August 1.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) wrote on his Facebook page Sunday that Tisha Be’av had come at a time when Israeli society was especially divided. He called for healthy discourse among the people of Israel.
“Unity does not require us to give up on what we believe in or our feelings,” Edelstein wrote. “But it does requires us to consider that we are not the only ones entitled to our point of view. We have to believe that on the other side that argues with us, there are human beings with hearts, that they also mean well, and that they are also an important part of our people.”
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who is a candidate for mayor of the city, delivered an address about the city’s past and future at a Women in Green even that was attended by thousands of people on Saturday night at the Old City’s Lion’s Gate.
“We returned to our land and to Jerusalem,” he said. “We built Jerusalem and returned to all parts of it, and we will remain in all parts of the city. Nothing can prevent Jerusalem from remaining our united, eternal capital.”
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