The poster for the 38th Shabbat demonstration, in front of the President’s Residence, in Jerusalem was very appealing, especially for someone of my generation. Above the photos of the speakers and the singers were the words: Kippur, War, Tikkun, State. The Yom Kippur War started a year after I graduated from high school, and we were all on active duty at that time. This Yom Kippur, we mark 50 years since that war, and it is impossible to ignore the similarities between the blindness and disconnect of the leaders in 1973 with the detachment and carelessness of the current government.
So I decided that perhaps it was time to check the demonstration in Jerusalem. While Saturday night in Kaplan is a perfectly organized event, in Jerusalem things are a little bit different. Half an hour prior to the beginning of the event, there were almost no people there. Still, from the beginning, I could feel an unexpected tenderness in the air. As we were waiting for the stars to shine to mark the end of Shabbat, people started filing in casually without hurry and greeted those who were already present. It seemed that the demonstration in Jerusalem was a neighborly affair.
Although the Jerusalem protest against the judicial overhaul is not a small gathering, quite the contrary, I felt the connection to its predecessor, the Balfour Demonstrations. Unlike Kaplan, which is new and still evolving, trying to find its way, the protesters outside the President’s Residence are already veterans in seeking justice.
The ultimate goal is the same in Kaplan, Jerusalem, and the rest of Israel. As the poster indicates: it is “the protest of the men and women of Jerusalem against destruction.” Still, here there is an addition: “right, left, secular, and religious.”
It is quite remarkable that the protest in Jerusalem has managed to stay truly pluralistic. I felt that at this time of the year, the High Holidays and the Days of Awe, this unity between right, left, secular, and religious, is especially needed and it gives me hope for the new year.
The event in Jerusalem is organized by the NGO “Safeguarding (Shomrim) Our Shared Home,” which was created several days after Yariv Levin declared the judicial overhaul. For me, the most poignant moment of the evening was Leonard Cohen’s song “Who By Fire” in English and in the Hebrew translation. Cohen was in Israel at the time of the 1973 war and sang to the soldiers. It seems that I wasn’t the only one with tears in my eyes, listening to the beautiful voices of Abraham Cohen and Noa Ritchka who performed the song in English and Hebrew accompanied by a guitar.