In honor of Tisha B’Av, the annual fast day commemorating a number of disasters in Jewish history, which is marked this year on August 11, the city of Tel Aviv will host a series of discussion circles at Habima Square, the central outdoor space outside the Habima Theater.
The conversations, sponsored by the municipality, Tel Aviv’s Bina Secular Yeshiva and Shira Banki’s Way (an educational organization founded in memory of Shira Banki, a 15-year-old killed during the 2015 Jerusalem Pride Parade), are an effort to stimulate conversation and discussion among different voices in Israeli society.
Guided by a variety of speakers and Jewish leaders, including gay rights activists and the CEO of Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of Jewish settlements, the gatherings are meant to be places of open conversation, an opportunity to hear and be heard, to speak, listen, read and take responsibility for the advancement of Israeli society, according to the event’s Facebook page.
The ancient and more recent tragedies that took place on the ninth of Av are often thought to have been precipitated by acts of baseless hatred between Jews. In reaction to that thinking, the annual day of mourning is often countered worldwide with acts of Jewish unity and cooperation.
The topics for the Tel Aviv discussions will include social responsibility, progress and tradition, pluralism, the representation of minorities and other issues.
Entrance to the conversations are free, and will begin at 9:30 p.m. on August 10.