Last week, HDNA took a leading role in Remember the Murder, Stand up for Democracy, a coalition of Jewish and Zionist groups in New York City that came together to commemorate the anniversary of the murder of Yitzchak Rabin. The event welcomed participants from across the political spectrum for a rare and important chance for dialogue, a way to commemorate and resist the incitement that led to Rabin’s death. Below is the text of a speech read at the event by HDNA’s own Sadie Fowler (WS 68), which she read at the close of the event.
Last year I was in Israel on a gap year program with Habonim Dror called Workshop. I spent the year living out my values of socialism and Shivyon Erech HaAdam, or equality of human value, with my kvutza (group). While I was volunteering at a youth movement center, I got to participate in Asepha Isarelite, together with other youth movement members.
Asepha Israelite was an amazing experience for me. When I first got there, I was immediately overwhelmed because there were so many people. All of the youth movements in Israel had chanichim there. The sixteen of us from Workshop got separated into different circles. Each circle aimed to have people from each movement there. Every circle was tasked with debating a topic about Israeli society and coming to a common decision among them.
The prompt in my circle was about ‘how we should be celebrating Shabbat in the country,’ which —if you don’t know—can be pretty controversial. It was there that I got to talk to a girl, about my age, maybe a little younger, from Bnei Akiva, a very religious movement compared to Habonim Dror. It was so interesting to be able to listen to her side of it, which was so different from mine, and have a really cool conversation about what we think, even though we had very different opinions.
We have very different backgrounds: She was born into a religious family in a religious neighborhood in Israel and I was born into a reform family in San Francisco in America. We didn’t speak the same language. We were part of two very different youth movements. But despite all of our differences, we were able to have a very respectful discussion and both share our sides. I learned a lot from her and she told me stories and points that I would have never thought about because I haven’t lived her life. And I told her my points and my stories and at the end we came to a compromise, which I think is the beauty in this whole thing.
I think it’s beautiful that we were able to listen to each other. I think that’s an important part of our world that a lot of people choose to ignore. I’ve noticed recently that people tend to talk only with people who are most similar to themselves and I think it’s really important that we blend those separations otherwise nothing will ever change. We need to understand others perspectives and learn to have respectful discussions and disagreements and learn to still love everyone no matter how different their background is.