Israeli Purim readings aim to bridge religious-secular gap

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli rabbinical group that works to bridge the religious-secular divide will hold Purim megillah readings in 400 locations to promote attachment to Judaism.

The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization will hold the readings in community centers, entertainment facilities and school gyms in partnership with Ohr Torah Stone, an organization headed by American-born Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. Ohr Torah Stone’s Yachad program has been running Jewish Identity programming in community centers across the country since 2004, with the goal of empowering the secular population in Israel to connect to Jewish tradition.

The joint Megillah BaKehilla program is also planning readings in several fire stations to recognize the challenges firefighters faced in battling wildfires in Israel over the last year. Over 50,000 people are expected to participate in the programs.

The Purim holiday will be observed in Israel beginning on Saturday night.

“Purim is a holiday that inspires the participation of Israeli Jews of all backgrounds and levels of observance,” said Rabbi David Stav, the chairman of Tzohar and co-chancellor of Ohr Torah Stone. “We welcome the chance to use this holiday as an avenue to get all Israelis involved in their religion and feel more attached to their nation and traditions.”

Tzohar has been coordinating community holiday programming for over 10 years, with the goal of making Jewish holiday traditions accessible to all Jews in Israel in a non-coercive atmosphere. Events for Yom Kippur, Purim and Shavuot are hosted in kibbutzim, moshavim and cultural centers across Israel.

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