Haredim join Zionist groups for Yad Vashem event

Event marks the first time that the hasidic movement, 1 of the largest in Israel, sends representatives.

outh Movement Congress at Yad Vashem 370 (photo credit: Yad Vashem)
outh Movement Congress at Yad Vashem 370
(photo credit: Yad Vashem)
Members of the Gur hasidic sect have joined Zionist youth organizations for the 2013 Youth Movement Congress at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial on Thursday.
This year’s event, organized by the Education Ministry and Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, marks the first time that the hasidic movement, one of the largest in Israel, sent representatives to the coeducational event.
Thursday’s congress was the eighth such event held by Yad Vashem and was dedicated to the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
All told, four hundred young people, representing thirteen movements from the left-wing Hashomer Hatza’ir to the Revisionist Betar, were in attendance.
Hasidic Jews do not generally engage publicly in public coeducational activities with Zionist organizations.
However, Dorit Novak, the director of the International School, says that activities dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust are different and can serve as a valuable bridge between the various sectors of society.
Despite radically different religious and political orientations, she said, the different groups in attendance gathered together to discuss ways and means of promoting Holocaust education in their communities.
Youth leaders, she said, must become educators in their own right before they can become leaders. She also noted that the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising belonged to some of the Zionist movements represented at the Congress.
Anyone who seeks to improve their community in Israel is a Zionist in “my eyes,” she told The Jerusalem Post, referring to the ultra- Orthodox participants.
While Thursday was the first time that the Gerrer Hechaelei Oneg organization took part, she noted, the Banot Batya movement, associated with the ultra- Orthodox Beis Yaakov school girls network, has been participating for several years.
While participating in the event, representatives of Gur declined to be interviewed.
Banot Batya represents several streams of ultra-Orthodoxy, including hasidic groups, non-hasidic “Lithuanians” and Sephardic Jews and is the fourth-largest such haredi organization, according to organization representative Yehudit Loberbaum.
Despite tensions over issues of religion and state in Israel having taken center stage politically in recent years, Loberbaum said that she felt no hostility on the part of national-religious and secular participants.
It is important for the haredi world to take part in events such as this, she said.
“It is important for us to be a part.”