Israeli Assembly Commemorates Yitzhak Rabin z”l in Rabin Square
Youth and adults from all sectors of Israeli society discuss the sanctity of life
Last night, Israeli Democracy Month culminated in the Israeli Assembly. Organized by a coalition of youth movements and organizations from the entire spectrum of Israeli religious, political and cultural life, the event brings thousands together in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv for a ceremony commemorating the life, murder and legacy of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z”l, and discussion circles taking up pressing issues in Israeli society.
Last night’s main event was preceded by smaller local assemblies in over 20 towns and cities throughout the country, as well as guided tours of Dror Israel’s mobile exhibit about Rabin’s life and assassination, which fosters open and honest discussion about the ability of Israeli society to contain disagreement within the bounds of democracy.
The youth discussion circles were led by trained facilitators from a wide spectrum of Israeli youth movements – the largest of them HaNoar HaOved (associated with Dror Israel) and Bnei Akiva (Israel’s largest religious Jewish youth movement).
The adult discussion circles focused on the value and sanctity of human life, and were led by an interesting variety of public figures whose lives and expertise shed light on the topic – including experts in the healthcare system and current pandemic, families impacted by the disaster on Mount Meron in which 11 people were killed in April of this year, activists fighting violence against women in Arab-Israeli society, experts in deadly road and work accidents, and more.
One of the most moving speakers was Adi Guzi, who became famous after she saved her neighbor Shira Isakov’s life by interrupting Isakov’s husband’s attempt to murder his wife. Guzi said, “Women reach out to me on Facebook and Instagram. I even found myself escorting women out of their homes and into shelters, and helping with law enforcement and other professionals. I never thought something like this would happen, but if women see me as someone giving them courage or strength, then I try to help as much as I can.”
Israeli Minister of Education Yifat Shasha-Biton spoke at the memorial ceremony during the event, saying, “Disagreements are natural, legitimate and even inevitable, but we must know how to conduct them while preserving unity and mutual respect. Dialogue is one of the foundations of democracy, and the ability to have fruitful discussions about controversial issues is critical to the strength of Israeli society. We must take responsibility for the character of debate. We must understand, remember and remind one another that words that come out of our mouths are often an opening for actions.”
The event was organized by one of the most diverse coalitions of organizations in the country, with the goal of implementing lessons from the life, legacy and assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z”l – that a functioning democracy cannot be taken for granted, and that all Israelis need to take responsibility for strengthening democratic values and the rule of law in order to ensure the continued future of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.