A coalition of 25 Jewish US organizations will convene on Sunday for a program commemorating the 26th Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Day, titled "Stand up for democracy! Listen. Learn. Debate: Strengthening our democracy through dialogue," a spokesperson for the coalition said in a statement.
The program will take place in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, with youth-led circles as well as an online version for adults with special guest speakers.
The coalition was established four years ago in New York and was inspired by a similar one in Israel that has been working for the last decade under the name "Remember the murder, stand up for democracy." The founders, Zionist youth movements in Israel, created the "Asefa Israeleet" (Israeli Assembly), an event that brings together more than 15,000 people every year to discuss issues related to Israeli democracy.
The US coalition's stated mission is to create a large event commemorating Yitzhak Rabin in North America in order to "reshape and revive Rabin's Memorial Day in the North American Jewish community" and to make it "a day of internal democracy; a day to bring together diverse groups of North American Jewry, from different streams, to talk, to listen and to create understanding, leading the way for organizational collaboration throughout the year," according to the statement.
While the youth-led circles will focus on group discussion, the adult online program is scheduled to include guest speakers, including president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, Israeli-American director, screenwriter and producer Yaron Zilberman, and Haaretz political correspondent Michael Hauser Tov. The event will culminate with an online closing ceremony, which will include greetings from Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai. Some 250 youth and 300 adults are expected to participate.
"It's not an easy process to do," Erica Kushner, the Secretary-General of Jewish-Zionist youth movement Habonim Dror North America was quoted as saying in the statement. "In our daily life the majority of the time we are doing things mostly with people from our 'base'.
"But when we learn about the time before the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, the debate that crossed the redlines of democracy in Israel, and when we see the last years in Israel and here in the US, we understand that we need, at least one day a year, to work hard to meet with those different from us inside our Jewish community, have dialogue, and stand up for democracy together," she said. "Not with suspicion towards the other, but with trust. With a feeling of shared responsibility to our people."
"The most exciting aspect of this coalition is that the program is led by youth and young adults," Liz Tsai, executive director of High School Affairs at international Israel education organization StandWithUs was quoted as saying.
"The youth council is guiding the event." she said. "It is encouraging to see the different movements and youth organizations come together to build this important event. As Martin Buber said, 'the youth are the ongoing chance for the future of humanity.' This vision is coming to reality through this coalition that represents the next generation of Jewish leadership.”