Tzohar, Zaka unite for Purim coexistence project

One of the obligations of the day is to send small packages of food to friends, neighbors, work colleagues.

February 26, 2012 22:40
3 minute read.

purim. (photo credit: courtesy)


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The Tzohar rabbinical association and the volunteer emergency and disaster organization Zaka have teamed up to spread brotherly love as the holiday of Purim approaches.

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 other.

The intent, the organizers said, is to create a “direct connection without intermediaries” between the two otherwise totally separated communities.

“Purim is a festival that embodies the history of Jewish life throughout the ages,” said Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav.

“Unity 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 explained.

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.

To 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 Knesset.

“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 Meshi-Zahav.

“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 said.

“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.”

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