Tel Aviv marked the Hassidic holiday of “Yud Tet Kislev” - the 19th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev – with song and cheer, as Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, the head of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar, brought a genuine hassidic “farbrengen” (happening) to one of the most secular sites in the secular city – the Charles Bronfman Auditorium of the Tel Aviv Cultural Center (Heichal Hatarbut).
The event, said organizer Dan Marans, was meant “to bring the light of Torah and Hassidism to the heart of the darkness.”
Rabbi Ginsburgh, a controversial figure because of statements he has made and books he has written on matters of Jewish law, has long been the target of the secular press, and has been questioned by police in the past on some of his statements. On Wednesday, several groups had threatened to protest outside the hall, which usually hosts concerts and plays that appeal to a secular audience, but the protests didn't materialize.
“There are only about 15 people outside, and we invited them in,” said Marans. “Our message to them is that we want peace, and in order for there to be peace there must be peace among the Jewish people.”
In a letter addressed to the protesters, the Rabbi himself said that he wanted nothing more than to bring peace between the factions of the Jewish people – left and right, secular and religious. “I believe that each Jew has a special task to unify the world under a banner of peace and truth, and belief in One God,” he wrote. “I have been emphasizing this point in many of my recent lectures.”
That was the point of the event, said Marans. “The first step is to have peace among ourselves, and this event shows just how wonderful that is, as we have people from all backgrounds here.”
The event featured top musicians from Israel, including internationally famous jazz saxophonist Daniel Zamir. Hundreds attended the event from all over the country – including from Tel Aviv – and were treated to uplifting music in a fun event that also carried a lot of meaning, said Marans.
“The nineteenth of Kislev is when the first (Lubavitcher) Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi was freed from prison,” said Marans. “In a way it's the new year of Hassidism, so we celebrate with song. Plus,” he aded, “it's a great way to get ready for Hanukkah, which begins next week.”