Jerusalemite Day of Diversity in the World Capital of Tolerance

Jerusalemite Day of Diversity in the World Capital of Tolerance

This is the third year that 80 tolerance events took place over 36 hours of Jerusalem Day – events that were created by activists who care for the city, who are happy for its diversity, and who want to celebrate Jerusalem Day in a way that expresses the soul of our city, with grassroots messages of Jerusalemites, by Jerusalemites and for Jerusalemites. Together, we proved again that Jerusalem is not a mixture of political and religious slogans hanging above our heads, but a city that’s been blessed with a broad and interesting human diversity. These events proved that Jerusalem is indeed the World Capital of Tolerance…And if you’re an activist for tolerance from anywhere in the world and want to get to know a bustling and effective community that influences the entire city – you should come to Jerusalem, and almost every day you’ll have something to see, someone to meet and something to learn.

This is how our Michal Shilor, Coordinator of our Grassroots Campaign for Tolerance, described this year’s Jerusalemite Day of Diversity in her column in the weekly Hebrew-language newspaper, Yediot Yerushalayim. She further summed up the day in a Jerusalem Post article:

Jerusalemites are taking responsibility for Jerusalem Day…there is a different way to celebrate and mark Jerusalem Day, and that there is space for all opinions and all people in this city.

And in this Times of Israel article Michal noted:

We’re creating a new narrative for this city. It isn’t perfect, but it’s all from a huge range of people who live here and create this day together, tagging it as a city of global tolerance, and we’ll become known for that.

Talking and doing tolerance on Jerusalemite Day

Talking and doing tolerance on Jerusalemite Day

Indeed, this year marked another successful year for the Jerusalemite Day of Diversity, which took place on Jerusalem Day, May 13. For the third year running, we, together with hundreds of activists and thousands of participants, brought Jerusalemites back into the equation on Jerusalem Day. The day featured:

  • 36 hours in which our city was decorated with hope, tolerance, special encounters with those whom we usually do not meet
  • 80 events that were initiated, created, participated in and enjoyed by you,
  • thousands of Jerusalemites from all groups in the city,
  • as part of the 500 events that advance tolerance throughout the year.

So what did we have? We had Jerusalemites’ in the Living Room, where a wide range of Jerusalemites – from an American journalist to a member of the Eidah Haredit to a formerly racist soccer fan who now works to build intercultural bridges:

American journalist Sarah Tuttle Singer tells of her experiences in Jerusalem

American journalist Sarah Tuttle Singer tells of her experiences in Jerusalem

And we had tours – of the hidden Muslim cemetery in Independence Park:

Tour of the hidden Muslim cemetery, with Emek Shaveh

Tour of the hidden Muslim cemetery, with Emek Shaveh

Of the Old City of Jerusalem:

Learning about the Old City with Eran Tzidkiyahu and Ir Amim

Learning about the Old City with Eran Tzidkiyahu and Ir Amim

There were Postcards from the Soul at the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem, where people of all backgrounds created postcards with different languages:

Making postcards in all languages at the Tower of David

Making postcards in all languages at the Tower of David

Along the light rail there were several pop-up events, such as a debka dance group at Safra Square – Municipality:

 

A singing group at Davidka Square:

Singing tolerance in Davidka Square

Singing tolerance in Davidka Square

And a short video of them in action

 

Pop-up mediation from Mosaica:

Learning real-life mediation tools

Learning real-life mediation tools

Of course we can’t forget the parades – the Flower Parade, by Tag Meir:

Distributing flowers instead of hate

Distributing flowers instead of hate

And the Jerusalem March, organized by the Yerushalmit Movement, which brought together hundreds of Jerusalemites on the Railway Park:

Marching along the Railway Park

Marching along the Railway Park

Jerusalem resident Ahuva Lebor, in the above-mentioned Jerusalem Post article, mentioned:

This city is a city of love, a city of community, a city that is respectful, and this [the Jerusalem March] is the best and most respectful march where you see real love for Jerusalem.

After the Jerusalem March, participants gathered at the First Station. Later that evening the outdoor tent was filled to the brim with Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Believers Festival.

At the Believers Festival

At the Believers Festival

And here’s more from the “Believers” Festival at the First Station on Sunday night:

 

Educator and activist Carmiel Frutkoff commented that:

Ending the day with hundreds of Jerusalemites who deeply care for this city and its diversity, was exactly what I needed to survive the day…They say that one small candle, can give enough light to rid an entire room of darkness, just imagine what hundreds of good and compassionate people can do to our city…

Here’s his full post on Facebook:

Sunday evening also featured the Creating Tolerance: A Jerusalemite View Conference at the Reut School, which featured members of the community, MKs, and Jerusalemite activists.

Listening to different opinions at the Reut School

Listening to different opinions at the Reut School

Hechal Shlomo at the Great Synagogue also joined in the festivities, with a gallery discussion on its “This Too is Possible” exhibit, which included both Jewish and Arab artists.

From the This Too is Possible exhibit

From the This Too is Possible exhibit

Rounding out the festivities was an open mic night at the Abraham Hostel:

Open mic night at the Abraham Hostel

Open mic night at the Abraham Hostel

We’ve gotten rave reviews from many people. City council member Elad Malka wrote:

We Jerusalemites know that we live here [in Jerusalem] because of the differences and diversity and not despite them. That is why it’s so important for us to live in this city. Other places are just too boring.

Here’s his Facebook post:

Others said:

Without you none of this would have happened, and it definitely would not have become a tradition, especially not in the quality and quantity [of events and activities]. Thank you, and thanks to the general public and to all the ambassadors of tolerance of Jerusalem!

Here’s the Hebrew post:

Indeed, this year we found exactly how much Jerusalemites treasure this diversity. We recent polled Jerusalemites, which was covered by the Mako Hebrew-language news site (associated with the Channel 2 TV news station), and which showed that:

  • 82% of Jerusalemites are happy that there are different groups in the city;
  • 82% feel it’s important to meet people different from them, and 96% report that they do in fact meet people who have a different religion or nationality than them on a daily basis.
  • 70% wouldn’t have a problem living in the same building with someone from a different sector.
  • 95% of the respondents noted that they would help a person in need, even if he / she was from a different religion.

Everything was documented and updated on the Jerusalem Tolerance web site. This year there were more than 350 clicks into the site on Jerusalemite Day!

Leading up to the day two videos were made, this one, by spoken word artist  Chen Amram:

 

And this one, filmed in the popular Mamilla Mall and Old City market:

 

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation, the UJA-Federation of New York, and the Natan Fund for their continued support in working to advance tolerance in Jerusalem.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email