Religious and secular Israelis study Torah together in Tel Aviv
Religious and secular Israelis study Torah together in Tel AvivCourtesy

In a study tent erected on Kaplan Street, the epicenter of the anti-government demonstrations in Tel Aviv, this week, a "brothers' dialogue was held during which religious zionists spoke with passersby.

"First of all, we wanted to say thank you. Thank you for the study, for bringing people together, for the discussions, and for participation. On Tuesday, we began the 'Havruta on Kaplan' (study partner on Kaplan) initiative. We put up a tent in the heart of Tel Aviv and began to learn Torah, men and women, young people and adults," Itamar Chen, one of the organizers, recounted.

Chen goes into detail about the classes that were given and the discourse with the public: "During the day, there were two classes, one from Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, the chief rabbi of Samaria, and one by Rabbi David Fendel, the rabbi of Sderot and the head of the monetary rabbinical court in Sderot.

During the day, we met people who don't meet the Torah every day, we studied together, we spoke, we listened. Tuesday ended with good feelings, and Wednesday began. On Wednesday, we began the day by studying in pairs, and in the early afternoon, Rabbi Yaakov Medan, the dean of the Har Etzion Yeshiva, came to lecture. We continued to study and to speak with those who passed by on the street, and we waited for the next classes.

Chen also discussed the demonstration by LGBT activists against Rabbi Tzvi Kostiner, who has made several harsh anti-gay comments in the past: "Before Rabbi Kostiner's class, a demonstration gathered in the area, we weren't moved, we did notice it. We distributed cold drinks, ice pops, pizza, and more to the protesters. We invited them to speak. After the class ended, something incredible happened: all of the demonstrators who just came to make noise left, and the ones who stayed were the ones who calmed down and wanted to sit and talk. We sat in circles, we listened to each other, we shared with them, and they shared with us."

He recounted how, as a result of the dialogue, a planned demonstration was canceled: "The time came for Rabbi Yehuda Sadan, the dean of the Eli Yeshiva, to teach. There were calls to protest Rabbi Sadan as well, and what happened? After the dialogue, no one demonstrated; the rabbi spoke about the situation from his point of view, and protesters joined to hear the class and to listen to the rabbi. The rabbi stayed for about an hour after the class and spoke with protesters. And the initiative? It reached its goals," he concluded.

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