16 Years of Dialogue on Tisha B'Av Night

Unity event celebrates 16 years of bringing Israelis together - but organizer says there's a long way to go to true unity.

Tags: Tisha B'Av
Yoni Kempinski ,

"Tonight We Don't Study Torah" unity event
"Tonight We Don't Study Torah" unity event
Credit: Arutz Sheva

Among the various Jewish unity events occurring throughout Israel on Tisha B'Av - the national day of mourning over the destruction of the Jewish Temples in Jerusalem - one of the most longstanding is the "Tonight We Don't Study Torah" event, which has been taking place for 16 years now.

The name of the event refers to the fact that, uniquely, on the Fast of Av Jews are prohibited by Jewish law from studying Torah (apart from tracts dealing with mourning or the Temples' destruction) - the reason being that Torah study brings joy to the soul.

The event brings thousands of Israelis from across the religious and political divide together to hear speeches from prominent Israeli figures and discuss a wide range of topics.

Event organizer Gal Nakdimon described her mixed feelings Saturday night, at the start of the Tisha B'Av, to Arutz Sheva.

On the one hand, she noted with pride that the event itself has grown exponentially. When it started 16 years ago it attracted around 50 people; "we had more media than audience," she smiled.

"16 years later something is working - and it's working very well."

However, she lamented the fact that the issues the event was founded to combat - namely, the internal schisms within Israeli society - had not abated in her view.

"We have so many good things that we can share. Let's not do it just one evening - lets do it 365!"