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By November 15, 2018 Read More →

The ‘Berkovitch Wave’ – What was it really about?

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I didn’t vote for Berkovitch in the first round and like many other friends of mine would have rather seen Elkin in the second round, where especially if he would have joined with Dietch they would have been able to build a coalition and beaten Leon.

Furthermore, I don’t agree with some of the views and leanings of Berkovitch and the Hitorerut crowd.

But this isn’t so much about the politics, policies or religion, but rather the human story and what I saw on the streets.

The campaign that Berkovitch and Hitorerut ran was excellent. From manifestos and brochures to flyers and banners. From events and parties to Friday morning cleaning up the streets to Shabbat afternoon tiyulim and social activist projects.

In the weeks and days leading up to the elections they were patrolling the streets with their yellow T-shirts and flyers and yes, we can learn from their determination and drive.

They did everything and had more people bothered to vote on the second round, Berkovitch would be the mayor. Unlike others.. their campaign was clean and positive.

Just think of that for a second. A group of young, idealistic Israelis and Olim almost changed the face of Jerusalem. In the first round Berkovitch beat Elkin and Dietch, both of whom were far more senior than him. In the second round, it was extremely close and Berkovitch could have easily won.

Now for my second point. I know some of the Berkovitch and Hitorerut team were not religious. Friends of mine – Dan Illouz, Avi Bieler, Yoni Mann were, but others weren’t.  But, we can learn from the dedication of chilonim (secular Israelis) too.

Rav Kook writes about how much we need to value chilonim and their contribution ( often in blood) to the state of Israel. Their self sacrifice and willingness to dedicate themselves to building up a country in practical and mundane ways.

Thirdly, we can also learn from the Anglo-Hitorerut campaign and how dedicated they all were. I’ve never seen such a motivated team. I once heard Rav Benny Lau talk about ‘Olim Plus’ – Olim who do more than just make Aliyah and remain in their ‘Olim bubbles’. They go out and integrate and have an impact on real Israeli society. The Anglo-Hitorerut crowd did this. For Olim to make such an impact on mainstream Israeli society is a real achievement and something we can all be proud of.

So to answer – What was the ‘Berkovitch Wave’ really about? It was about wanting and believing you can make a difference from the bottom-up, not top-down. I would even say it was an attempt at a quasi-revolution. They wanted to be a beacon of hope and a catalyst for change.

Berkovitch may have very narrowly lost the second round, but we all have much to learn from their campaign and their passion.

Praying for our beloved Yerushalayim…

Benjy.

 

 

 

 

 

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