By Danielle Shacham
The Jewish new year is here, and what could possibly be more festive than sharing these holiday moments with family, friends, and…
A unique, Israeli initiative believes that strengthening neighborly relations can affect the entire Jewish community in Israel, and most importantly, cultivate a sense of social cohesion. Karov LaLev is a non-profit aiming to turn around the current rifts within the Israeli public, especially between the secular, Haredi and religious sectors. “Suddenly, if felt like our apartment building turned to a community”, the Simhi family shared with us, “neighbors confide and rely on one another. The bonds grew strong as ones you’d find in a small town’s community”.
In recent years, the relations between the various sectors can be described as rollercoaster like, due to the ideological conflicts that remain within each group, along with the difficulty of finding the peaceful, common grounds. The secular and the religious publics share different perspectives, where sometimes unable to objectively look beyond emotion. In such a complex reality, it is necessary for someone to take matter into hands, and to offer an alternative form of bringing people together.
Karov LaLev’s initiative focuses on utilizing the Jewish holiday spirit and produces tens of thousands heartwarming holiday kits for neighbors to share together. Each kit includes unique Jewish content, appropriate for each holiday, and is distributed to families via volunteers, all across Israel. “Last night… I took a kit and visited my elderly neighbor. I sat with him, gave him the gift – a Jewish calendar – and we had a pleasant conversation about the Rosh HaShana holiday…”, said one of Karov LaLev’s participants.
Established in 2013, the organization is funded by governmental budgets and private donors, all whom believe that in order to achieve long lasting change we need to keep promoting creative community programs in order to create a ripple effect on the entire society. To keep the organization’s mission alive, donations are accepted constantly, in the hopes of maintaining the transformation slowly happening nationwide.
Based in Israel, the Israeli non-profit opened people’s hearts to the idea that the Jewish heritage, morals and beliefs can unite us once again, instead of dividing us to extremes. It seems that cultivating a sense of Arvut Hadadit (mutual responsibility), acceptance and unity are only some of the middot the project aims for. There’s a famous phrase in Hebrew, “Ve’Ahavta L’Reacha Kamocha”, literally meaning “love others the way you love yourself”. Yet Karov LaLev’s perspective is much broader – attempting to recreate the deep connections in Am Yisrael (the Jewish people), just like in the old days, by simply respecting and loving one another.
In order to further spread the word of these middot, Karov LaLev launched a campaign in collaboration with Dan Public Transportation, a bus company in central Israel, advertising the holiday kits and promoting neighborly connections. Further, the non-profit announced a new project called “Twin School Program”, where approximately 24 pairs of schools, religious and secular alike, will collaborate on various occasions during the academic school-year.
As of today, Karov LaLev has managed to create more than 100,000 neighborly encounters nationwide. More than 5,000 volunteers share the passion of goodness, as activity is spread in over 100 cities across Israel. It is a beautiful virtue of this initiative, seeing the potential future for this country, a very optimistic one that is action driven and motivational. Further, it’s great to see that Karov LaLev’s service is available all across Israel, where every family can purchase a holiday kit and start the tradition.
So, are you ready to sign up? I know I am!