10,000 to gather at Ko­tel for ‘Day of Jewish Unity’

An­nual ini­tia­tive calls on Jews around the world to pray to­day for peace and unity

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By TA­MARA ZIEVE (Dir­shu)

Some 10,000 peo­ple are slated to at­tend a gath­er­ing at the West­ern Wall on Fri­day to pray for global peace and unity.

The ini­tia­tive, named Day of Jewish Unity, is led by Dir­shu, an in­ter­na­tional To­rah or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The group’s out­reach arm, Acheinu, launched the an­nual event three years ago, to com­mem­o­rate the yahrzeit (an­niver­sary of death) of Is­rael Meir Ka­gan, known as Chofetz Chaim, an in­flu­en­tial rabbi of the Musar move­ment.

The ini­tia­tive’s web­site notes that the Chofetz Chaim “taught the sever­ity of the sin of leshon hara – speak­ing gos­sip or ill of an­other.”

“Con­sid­er­ing to­day’s po­lar­iz­ing en­vi­ron­ment and dan­ger­ously high level of hos­til­ity wreak­ing havoc across the world, Acheinu is spear­head­ing an ini­tia­tive to join thou­sands of peo­ple around the world for a Day of Jewish Unity,” it con­tin­ues.

Since this year’s event falls on a Fri­day, the lo­gis­tics of the event, usu­ally held at the Chofetz Chaim’s grave in Radun, Poland, be­came more com­pli­cated due to Shab­bat, and there­fore the main event will be held at the Ko­tel this year, with buses com­ing from all over Is­rael.

It is ex­pected to be a pri­mar­ily Ortho­dox Jewish af­fair – with par­tic­i­pants from var­i­ous sec­tors of that de­nom­i­na­tion – but sev­eral non-Jews have pub­licly thrown their weight be­hind the event, in­clud­ing Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian mul­ti­mil­lion­aire Fos­ter Stephen Friess, Clin­ton sup­porter and po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Danielle McLaugh­lin, and Don­ald Trump sup­porter and com­men­ta­tor Harlan Hill. The lat­ter two wrote a joint ar­ti­cle call­ing for unity.

“The Jewish world is an apt metaphor in many ways for our coun­try: There are var­i­ous groups and sub­groups who have dif­fer­ent be­liefs and agen­das and who of­ten are at odds with one an­other. And yet, th­ese groups are able to put aside their dis­agree­ments to come to­gether in peace and prayer. We knew we could, too,” they wrote in an opin­ion piece pub­lished on Foxnews.com on Tues­day.

Ac­cord­ing to Acheinu, 1 mil­lion peo­ple around the globe joined in the ini­tia­tive last year, which calls on par­tic­i­pants to re­cite Psalms, chap­ters 20 and 130, on Fri­day, Septem­ber 15, be­tween the hours of 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. This year Acheinu ex­pects at least as many par­tic­i­pants.

“Three years ago, part of the ral­ly­ing cry was the Iran deal,” Yitz­chok Saft­las, as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Dir­shu, told The Jerusalem Post on Wed­nes­day.

“Last year there were is­sues over the di­vi­sive­ness of the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and to­day, a big drive for this day is the threat posed by North Korea that is a world­wide threat, as well as global an­ti­semitism,” he said, specif­i­cally re­fer­ring to the vi­o­lent white su­prem­a­cist rally in Char­lottesville last month, as well as re­cent and on­go­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, as fo­cal points for prayer.

“Jews have his­tor­i­cally turned to prayer to bring pos­i­tive changes to the world,” a state­ment re­leased by Dir­shu said ahead of the event. “This Day of Jewish Unity is a call to ac­tion to pray for peace and sta­bil­ity in light of the dan­ger­ous cir­cum­stances we are fac­ing in the world both do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“There was a time when peo­ple could agree to dis­agree,” it con­tin­ued. “There was a time when we could dis­agree with each other with­out in­sult­ing one an­other. Can we go back to a time when we treat each other with re­spect and with­out vi­o­lence?”

PEO­PLE AT­TEND last year’s Day of Jewish Unity at the West­ern Wall.

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