May 25, 2024
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Teens Celebrate the Power of Connection at TorahNoar Unity Conference

As Israeli society grapples with deep-seated divisions, a beacon of unity emerged this week on July 18, the eve of Rosh Chodesh Av, when a lively crowd of thousands of teens from across the country gathered at Binyanei Hauma to take part in an energy charged Unity Conference, billed “Aderaba.”

The Aderaba conference was the initiative of Sulamot, founded by the Chief Rabbi of Gush Etzion, Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon, and the Rothenberg Family Foundation, founded by Robbie Rothenberg. Rav Rimon, who also penned a special prayer for unity, to be recited in synagogues this Tisha B’Av, expressed his aspiration that the teens absorb the positive messages and leave the conference as “unity ambassadors.”
Speakers included rabbis, educators, activists and public figures, such as Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, Bat Galim Shaer, former IDF commander Ziv Shilon, journalist Yisrael Meir and more. In one memorable session, Michael Edri, an altruistic organ donor who is religious, stood on stage with the recipient of his kidney, Aviram Fidel, a secular Jew with left-wing views. The two discussed the extraordinary bond they’ve cultivated despite holding polarizing political beliefs.
At the panel discussion, Rabbis Yigal Levenstein and David Stav, both leaders with differing perspectives within the national religious community, showcased how dialogue and healthy disagreement can be achieved with respect and dignity. Each session buzzed with energy, filled with enthusiastic, engaged youngsters who listened raptly and responded with insightful questions. Many are regular participants in Sulamot’s 40+ TorahNoar batei midrash, which advocate youth-led, youth-focused learning programs every motza’ei Shabbat.

The highlight of the conference was the mega-event, featuring artist Akiva Turgeman, who delivered a power-packed performance with songs that were both somber and hopeful. After an emotionally stirring video interview with Rabbi Leo Dee, a grieving husband and father to terror victims, Lucy Maia and Rina, Hy”d, Rabbi Dee took to the stage in person. He exhorted the youth to engage in ahavat chinam, specifically at this time, on the eve of the mourning period for the Beit Hamikdash and as Israeli society experiences one of its most divisive periods. This conference, he said, “sends the message that the Jewish people need right now – one of tolerance, understanding and love.”

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