itzhak rabin 88.
(photo credit: )
Around 3,000 people from both religious and secular background attended Gesher's 10th National Day of Dialogue at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, on Wednesday, in commemoration of the anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The event, which centered on the theme of partnership and belonging, took place in three tents. The 'talking tent' was made up of round table discussions led by counselors trained by Gesher, a social action organization, while another tent presented a range of Israeli speakers who spoke on a wide spectrum of political and religious topics.
The 'cinema tent,' featured productions by the Gesher multicultural film fund and screened several films about conflicts in Israeli society.
"This event was not to be seen as purely dedicated to his memory but more his ideas, focusing on the internal conflicts of Israeli culture, the divide between religious and secular - finding a solution," a spokesman for Gesher said.
The main role of the event, according to Gesher, was to create a debate among the young people of Israel and to get them thinking about what the Israel of the future should be like.
"Yom Rabin (Rabin Day) has been adopted by the Rabin Center and the Education Ministry to address the division in Israel, it has taken nine years to break the division between religious and secular, Gesher has increased dialogue between religious and secular through these events" Daniel Torpper, Gesher's president said.
Aderet Rosenberg, 22, from Efrat came to the event to gain a better understanding of other ways of thinking.
"I am pleased to hear that there is a chance to break down barriers...after the murder there was big distance between religious and secular communities," she said.
Rosenberg, who is religious, studies physical therapy in Tel Aviv and lives mostly with non-religious students and only a few religious girls. She said she feels it is a good thing that her religious and non-religious friends mix.
She believes the division of religious and secular before the assassination was a problem waiting to happen. "It was the straw that broke the camels back," she said, of the murder.
Olga Melamed, an IDF soldier who identifies as an atheist, felt the dialogue offered her a chance to hear thoughts and ideas. However, she recalled that she had found it difficult to connect with the religious students in her school, given her secular identity.
"In school, I felt a little embarrassed to be around others as I did not empathize with them," she said.
Education Minister Yuli Tamir spoke at the event about partnership and belonging in education, and met with many of the participants.
In addition to the yearly event, Gesher provides multimedia materials for teachers to help them prepare students to understand the societal conflict highlighted when Rabin was assassinated.
Gesher have been working for the last 37 years with youth and soldiers to give a greater understanding of the differences between the religious and non-religious.