The demonstrators against judicial reform announced last week that they would expand their protests to Bnei Brak, which is right next to Tel Aviv. In Bnei Brak, however, live almost exclusively Orthodox Jews, whose own political parties support judicial reform, and who see a modern Sodom and Gomorrah in the progressive Tel Aviv way of life.
It was expected that the demonstrators’ rainbow flags, as well as their aggressive demeanor with left-wing slogans, would provoke the residents of Bnei Brak. Police had prepared for violent clashes, while urging the demonstrators not to enter the Orthodox city.
But most of the protest organizers could not be convinced, and on Thursday evening thousands of anti-government activists marched to Bnei Brak.
Love your neighbor
What happened next, however, nobody expected. Instead of allowing themselves to be provoked and reacting to aggression with aggression, the Bible-believing Jews of Bnei Brak remembered the principles of the Word of God.
The city’s Orthodox Jews greeted the demonstrators with drinks and warm cholent, a Jewish dish prepared for Shabbat. Jewish music was played, people danced, and the demonstrators’ aggression subsided immediately.
שיחקו אותה אנשי בני ברק עם הצ’ולנט❤️❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/aWEtvTgGjX
— אטילה שומפלבי Attila Somfalvi (@attilus) March 23, 2023
The residents of Bnei Brak took to the streets and showed their fellow citizens that they are not their enemies, but their brothers.
It was probably the first time for many of those present that they had met people who were so opposed to their own lifestyle. Orthodox and progressives finally spoke to one another.
סופסוף הגיעו להידברות, בני ברק כעת. pic.twitter.com/YFxhNEORvL
— אריאל אלחרר (@ariel_elharar_) March 23, 2023
The following video clip, in which a protester was overwhelmed by the music, is particularly poignant. In the background, the song “Shalom Aleichem” (peace be upon you) is sung by Jewish families on Friday evenings while sitting at the set table and welcoming the Shabbat into their homes. The man on the motorbike takes off his helmet and starts singing along. This secular Jew probably hasn’t heard the song since he was a kid, and now after so many years his memories are flooding back and he can’t hold back his tears.
בני ברק, הערב pic.twitter.com/ZGHNwTSSY1
— ינון מגל (@YinonMagal) March 23, 2023
The Orthodox Jews, who are so often decried in the media, showed on Thursday what they (should) really stand for. Not enmity, but love. And in the end, the planned provocation turned into a celebration of brotherhood.
רגע מרגש בהפגנה בבני ברק: חרדים, מסורתיים ומפגיני מחאת קפלן בריקוד משותף עם דגלי ישראל ברחובות העיר: ״אנחנו מאמינים בני מאמינים״ pic.twitter.com/zpDDtjqA9y
— ישראל כהן (@Israelcohen911) March 23, 2023
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