The past year has seen numerous disputes between the secular and ultra-Orthodox communities regarding the character of Israeli society, and in some cases it appeared as though the ideological gap had become too wide to be bridged.
However, a project launched by the Tzohar and ZAKA organizations on Purim has proven that haredi and secular can coexist. As part of the initiative, secular couples hosted ultra-Orthodox couples, and vice versa. The hundreds of participants also exchanged Purim gift baskets (Mishloach Manot).
To reach as many people as possible, the organizations set up a hotline aimed at connecting secular and ultra-Orthodox couples according to their place of residence.
To promote the project, Knesset Member Ilan Gilon of the secular Meretz party exchanged gift baskets with fellow lawmaker Chaim Amsellem of Shas.
On Purim itself, seculars from Beit Shemesh rode through the Ramat Beit Shemesh neighborhood on a decorated carriage and handed out gift baskets to local haredim.
"I am very glad that hundreds of people took part in this initiative, which was all about love and mutual respect," said Tzohar Chairman Rabbi David Stav.
"We don’t take it for granted that secular and religious people took the time to get into their cars and hand out (gift baskets) to people they have never met before and supposedly have nothing in common with. This project proves that we tend to forget we have a lot in common and that the Israeli people strive to live in peace with one another," he added.
"At the end of the day, no extremist can change our true nature as a nation that seeks real unity."