Knesset plenum
Knesset plenum Israel news photo: Flash 90

The “Israeli Sabbath” initiative dreamt up by the Beit Hillel rabbinic organization has reached the Knesset.

The initiative aims to bring Israelis from across the religious spectrum together for a Sabbath meal, with the goal of reducing tension between social and religious groups.

Several Members of Knesset have decided to take part. MK Zahava Galon, head of the far-left Meretz party, will be hosted by MK Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid.

“I see Zahava and work with her in connection to issues that are important to both of us, and sit with her on Knesset committees,” Lavie said. “Sometimes we disagree, argue, and get angry, and sometimes we give each other strength… I’m very happy to invite Zahava and her family to our house, to sit at the Sabbath table, with food I cooked, without the daily pressure, to sit and talk and get to know each other a bit better.”

Yesh Atid MK Adi Kol, a vocal campaigner for civil marriage, will spend a Sabbath meal with the family of MK Zevulun Kalfa of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party.

“I see this initiative as very important for bringing together the various pieces that make up the whole of the Jewish nation,” the religious-Zionist Kalfa said.

“In recent years, since the eviction from Gush Katif and settling in Kibbutz Shomriya, I’ve seen the beautiful side of Israeli society,” he continued. “I’ve made wonderful friends from the kibbutz and moshav [agricultural community] whose way of life is, seemingly, very different from my own.”

“There’s nothing like the Sabbath table to deepen the connection between us,” he added. “Even if we can’t agree on everything, in the end we’ll always remember our shared past and future.”

Sources in the Beit Hillel organization said that thousands of families will be taking part in the special Sabbath initiative.

The purpose, they said, is to “build bridges between different populations, to introduce religious and secular people who live near each other, to strengthen Israel’s social cohesion, and to position the Sabbath as a communal value and an essential element of Jewish identity.”

Other senior figures who plan to take part in the event include National Lottery head Uzi Dayan, former Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Naveh, former Jewish Agency head Zev Bielsky, and Education Minister MK Rabbi Shai Piron (Yesh Atid).