The 21st Shabbat: Kaplan Is Our Town Square

Every Saturday I try to get to the Kaplan area early. The formal demonstration starts at 8 PM but  around 6 you can already see the height of preparations. The booths are already set at their  regular spots, and the members of the different civil organizations are there with their material: signs, T-shirts, stickers  etc. 

Few weeks ago I was lucky to catch a rehearsal of the huge protest orchestra (made up of professional players, amateurs and high schoolers), which was scheduled to play that night. The  following Saturday I witnessed another rehearsal that was much less heartwarming. It was a performance of a military marching band protesting against a nameless dictator. It was scary to hear the music, and the chanting and to read the signs.  The audience gasped, and some people burst out crying.  

Usually I manage to go up and down Kaplan street taking pictures of interesting signs and people. But yesterday a friend and I decided to start our exploration in Habima Plaza, where it all started on January 8th 2023. Last night was the 21st Shabbat of demonstrations, and part of it are is the weekly march from Habima to Kaplan, which usually takes place at around 7:30.

 In Habima there was already a large crowd, different groups such as  Crime Minister, The High Tech activists , and Brothers in Arms ( the veterans) were already there, chanting and drumming. Leaders,  holding megaphones, led the group pumping them into action. It was exciting to witness  how motivation is gradually built in the crowd.

Last night I came with a friend who returned to Kaplan after several weeks of being out of the country . It was gratifying  to revisit the action from her eyes. She was happy to be back  in the protest, and thankful that we were still  determined as ever.

Last night I saw something which I haven’t noticed beforehand. At different spots I saw people conversing seriously with one another. They stood in  noisy places and still really listened to each other. They had time to speak at length,  face to face, and were not in a hurry to go somewhere else. Kaplan  was  the place where they wanted to be, to make a difference. I also noticed that, like kids,  most people wore  printed colorful T-shirts of the protest

Suddenly I realized that after the isolation during the pandemic,  Kaplan  is a meaningful compensation, even a Tikkun. It provides us human contact with likeminded people, and the warmth and comfort, which  we missed so much. At such a difficult time, for several hours a week, Kaplan  has become our community. Perhaps this is another reason why people are so willing  to go to the streets, a week after week, and to stay there as long as it takes. Moreover, in the absence of our overhauled town square (how symbolic), Kaplan has become our provisional center where we can dream of a better future.

About the Author
I have a PhD in English literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and I usually write about issues concerning women, literature, culture and society. I lived in the US for 15 years (between 1979-1994). I am widow and in March 2016 started a support/growth Facebook group for widows: "Widows Move On." In October 2017 I started a Facebook group for Older and Experienced Feminists. .
Related Topics
Related Posts