Israeli Organization Sees Purim as Ultimate Holiday to Bridge Religious Gaps
Tzohar to Hold Purim Celebrations in over 100 Locations across Israel
(March 8, 2011 JERUSALEM) As Israel’s leading organization working to bridge the gap between the religious and secular communities, Tzohar will be hosting Megillah readings and Purim celebrations in more than 100 locations throughout the country.
All Israelis love the fun costumes and the traditional Purim partying” says Nachman Rosenberg, Executive Vice President for Tzohar. “Our programs aim to enrich the celebrations with meaningful Jewish values and show how Jewish Identity can become a source of national unity rather than separation. ”
Approximately 200,000 participants will be provided with a special Megillat Esther including the traditional text, pictures and explanations of the story of Purim and where the specific practices of the holiday, including giving charity and sending food baskets, come from. Some readings even get theatrical, like the one organized by Steve Schwartz of Ginot Shomron, where acting and costumes are used to convey the Purim stories to those who might have limited familiarity with Jewish observance.
The Tzohar readings primarily take place in community centers or school gyms rather than synagogues to make it a more open and welcoming environment for the whole community. “Having it in a neutral place makes it a lot more comfortable for those who typically do not join religious services,” said Schwartz, formerly of Brooklyn, New York.
Our goal is to help secular Israelis feel less alienated when it comes to Jewish practice and show them that there are many ways to embrace tradition and become involved with one’s Judaism,” said Rabbi David Stav, Chairman of Tzohar. “Purim, which has a social aspect on top of its religiosity, is the ideal time to spread that message.”
The “Together for Purim” program was inspired by Tzohar’s “Praying Together” Yom Kippur program which has been taking place for over 10 years and grows by thousands of participants each year.
Israelis welcome a refreshing opportunity to embrace their Jewish Identity in a way that is not coercive or forceful” Rosenberg says. “Programs such as this promote Jewish unity, a national value that is deeply existential in our eyes”.
TZOHAR (www.tzohar.org.il) is an organization comprised of over 1,000 Religious Zionist volunteer rabbis and educators working towards promoting and enhancing Unity and Jewish identity in the State of Israel.