In recognition of the eighteen legal matters over which the conflict erupted, there are eighteen ways in which 9 Adar is being commemorated, including refraining from destructive speech, reciting special prayers in honor of the day, studying texts that inspire constructive conflict, and practicing constructive conflict with others. Individuals, families, schools, organizations and communities around the world are therefore participating in and promoting the day in various ways.
“In addition to the goal of raising general public awareness about the theories, texts and practices of constructive conflict, it was essential to us to create a community of organizations that would together take ownership on this day and together promote a vision of Jewish conflict resolution becoming part of core Jewish culture, identity and practice today,” says Rabbi Dr. Daniel Roth, director of the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution (PCJCR), a center of the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies.
Educational School Programs
Several educational school programs are preparing special materials in honor of the day to be used by participating schools. The PCJCR’s Rodef Shalom School Program has provided special materials for Jewish middle schools in North America. In Israel, Yesodot – Center for Torah and Democracy has prepared special materials for the several hundred religious Zionist schools in its network that will focus on democratic values through a religious lens. Bar-Ilan University’s Conflict Management and Negotiation Graduate Program, as well as the Be’eri Program, part of the Shalom Hartman Institute, have prepared special materials for Israeli secular schools that both make Judaism relevant and offer practical conflict resolution skills. “Our hope is that this day become adopted by the Israeli Ministry of Education as a national holiday commemorated by all Israeli schools”, notes Roth, “especially since Shai Piron (Minister of Education), spoke about the importance of this day in his inaugural speech in the Knesset!”
Mediators and Mediation Centers
Mediators and mediation centers from Israel and the world are also participating. The Gishurim Program, a program of the Israel Ministry for Welfare and Social Services together with the Mosaica Center for Consensual Conflict Resolution, who work with and support the 28 community and dialogue mediation centers around Israel, is actively promoting the day. For example, in Rehovot the mediation center together with the municipality will be holding a special communal-wide event. Mediators and conflict resolution specialists from around the world, such as Queens Community Mediation Center and Sulcha – The Israeli Mediation Portal have been contributing to the day by sharing their tips for engaging in constructive conflict, several of them relating to how the Beit Hillel – Beit Shammai conflict could have been managed more constructively if they had invited in a mediator. Even the international Association for Conflict Resolution: Conflict Resolution Day has joined the effort to promote the day, even though this day is held annually in the end of October.
Academics and Academic Institutions
Several academics and academic institutions have also been promoting this day. Bar Ilan University’s Law School and Conflict Management and Negotiation Program is holding an academic conference on the 9th of Adar. In addition the Journal of Textual Reasoning, an academic journal of the Society for Scriptual Reasoning has dedicated a special volume in honor of the day to publish the many academic articles being written in honor of the day. Scholars of Judaism and conflict resolution, such as Prof. Marc Gopin from the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, at George Mason University, as well as Prof. Gerald Steinberg from Bar Ilan University and NGO Monitor have submitted important contributions in honor of the day.
Rabbis and Jewish Study Programs
Rabbis and Jewish study programs across denominations in Israel and around the world are also participating. In Israel, for example, Beit Hillel, Attentive Spiritual Leadership is encouraging its 200 rabbis from around Israel to speak about the day and what can be done to encourage healthy machloket in Israeli society today. In the US, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)’s Civility Initiative has reached out to its list of 2,000 rabbis encouraging them to partake in the day as well. Rabbinic schools in the US, such as the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College also has made plans to commemorate the day. In addition, the religious Zionist organization, Torah Mitzion, plans to hold study and practice sessions in their Kollelim around the world. Plugta, which brings together ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel with other sectors of Israeli society, is also planning several study and discussion events to commemorate the day.
Some organizations, such as Encounter and the Jewish Dialogue Group, have chosen to use this day as an opportunity to facilitate constructive conversations around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially since according to most historians, the original conflict on the 9th of Adar was actually over whether or not to make peace with Rome. Encounter, for example, has enlisted tens of their trained facilitators to facilitate such conversation in communities around North America. At Pardes in Jerusalem, one of the many ways this day will be commemorated will be through students engaging in deep learning conversations regarding their relationship to Israel.
“It’s interesting that every rabbinic book that mentions the 9th of Adar concludes with saying that in the future the day will be turned into a day of happiness and celebration, so who knows” says Roth, “maybe together we can actually make this vision become a reality!”