From Tolerance Week to Martin Luther King – A Winter Wonderland of Tolerant Holidays

From Tolerance Week to Martin Luther King – A Winter Wonderland of Tolerant Holidays

We reported before about the last Jerusalem Tolerance Week, the 8 days in mid-November with over 30 initiatives trumpeting tolerance in the city.

Well, it didn’t end there. As November blended into December, the new month brought with it a slew of activities where tolerance triumphed, from the Ethiopian Sigd to Christmas at the YMCA and on Mount Zion to a multi-cultural Hanukkah candle-lighting to the 7-week Holidays from Within Festival, which featured events celebrating Sigd, Hanukkah, Christmas, the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad, and Novy God (their Festival was covered in Hebrew on YNET).

Winter holidays, promoting tolerance

Winter holidays, promoting tolerance

All the events basically fit celebrated one of these five holidays:

1.The Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd (see here and here for more details):

  • November 16: A guided tour of the official Sigd ceremony at the Promenade in East Talpiot
  • November 16: Sigd Celebration at Beit Avi Chai
  • November 19: Ethiopian art workshop with the Ethiopian community of embroiderers
  • November 20 & 22: Sigd celebrations with Israeli families of Ethiopian descent
  • November 21: Ethiopian cooking workshop
  • November 22: A neighborhood Sigd celebration in Kiryat Hayovel, including a Museum in a Suitcase
  • November 22: A Story along the Way
A family celebration of the Sigd holiday

A family celebration of the Sigd holiday

2. The birth of the Prophet Muhammad (see here for more details):

  • November 29: Celebration in Ein Rafa
  • December 1: Lecture on customs and traditions in Islam
  • December 1: Festive tour of the Muslim Quarter
  • December 3: Home hospitality (in the YNET Hebrew article  you can see a video about this event)
Celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad

Celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad

3. Chanukah (see here for more details)

  • December 12 – 20: Nightly pluralist candle lighting in neighborhoods throughout the city
  • December 12: Candle lighting with ‘Hamiklat’ Haredi art gallery
  • December 13: Candle lighting with a Haredi family
  • December 13: Inter-religious candle lighting and Christmas party in French Hill
  • December 14: A Jerusalem dreidle-scavenger hunt, followed by a Chanukah party
  • December 15: Visit to the Karaite community in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City
  • December 15: Visit to the Messianic Jewish community in the Old City
  • December 18: Chanukah photography tour
  • December 18: Inter-religious candle lighting at the First Station
  • December 19: Tour of Meah Shearim
  • December 20: Haredi – Secular Chanuka encounter
Learning about different Chanukah traditions

Learning about different Chanukah traditions

4. Christmas (See here for more details)

  • November 26: Decorating the Jerusalem International YMCA’s giant Christmas tree
  • December 15 – 17: Christmas Bazaar
  • December 22: Tour of the secrets of the Jerusalem International YMCA
  • December 22: Tour of the Christian Quarter of the Old City
  • December 24: Christmas Eve concert
  • December 24: Volunteering at the Christmas Even mass at the Dormition Abbey
  • January 6: Tour of Orthodox Christian sites in preparation for the Orthodox Christmas
Christmas at the Jerusalem International YMCA

Christmas at the Jerusalem International YMCA

5. And Novy God, the Russian New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebration. (See here for more details.)

  • December 27: Lecture on the history of Novy God
  • December 28: Tusovka Novy  God Celebration

And of course we can’t forget the Kids4Peace winter event, that celebrated all the events together.

What was the impact of these events? Kehilat Zion, which participated in the inter-religious Chanukah candle-lighting at the Train Station, summed it up like this:

We wanted to take all of the little lights that throughout the year so many partners are working to shine, and to empower them together on one hanukkiah of hope in the public sphere.

Because in Earthly Jerusalem, something different is possible, and most of us choose to act different and to light hope. Together with communities of men and women from different neighborhoods, religions, and cultures who are joined in the belief in a Jerusalem of alliances and mutual caring; communities of individuals and groups who work and believe in a Jerusalem of good neighborliness and of friendship.

This, despite a group of hate-shouting youth who tried to disrupt the ceremony. Here’s the full Facebook post:

Kehilat Zion spoke specifically about Chanukah, but this is what we’re aiming for year-round. Over the 7-8 weeks, between Sigd and Orthodox Christmas, there were so many events (we counted some 50) it was hard to keep track. Well over 1,000 people, from all religions, all cultures, all languages. But also all Jerusalemites. Thank you Jerusalem for showing, yet again, your true colors of diversity. And thank you to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for helping us – and helping them- make it all happen.

 

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