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Tu B’Shvat Conference Draws Hundreds

Numerous speakers presented their vision of a just Israeli society based on Jewish values

The social justice demonstrations that electrified Israel during the summer of 2011 emphatically demonstrated that the values which served as the foundation of Jewish communities for centuries are alive in the contemporary Israeli consciousness. Although slogans calling for a just society recalled traditional Jewish language, no formal connection to Judaism and its noble values of justice, charity, loving-kindness, and community were overt.
In response, the Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI) dedicated its Second Annual Tu B’Shvat Conference, Planting Social Justice Uprooting Social Gaps, to an in-depth discussion on questions about Jewish values and their impact on Israeli social justice and culture.
Preparations for the conference began on Tuesday, February 7 with sessions on social justice delivered to the Institute’s administrative and teaching staffs. Wednesday, February 8 began with a roundtable discussion led by Shalom Hartman Institute president Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman and SHI Be’eri Program educational director Rabbi Dr. Ariel Picard for the heads of social justice and philanthropic organizations. In a second meeting, which will convene in approximately a month, this group will focus on how the thoughts raised at the conference and following it can be translated into action.
Immediately following this session, 17 roundtable discussions commenced on a variety of interesting and diverse topics relating to the conference theme (a full listing of the proceedings is available on the SHI website). We are currently collecting summaries of the roundtable discussions from the participating organizations.  These and the other conference proceedings will be bound into a volume that will be distributed to participants and other interested parties. Some background readings are already available (in Hebrew) on the website.
The opening plenary session featuring  Donniel Hartman, MK Shelly Yechimovich, historian Muki Tzur, and senior SHI scholar Avi Sagi was extremely well-received by a full house.  Real-time media coverage appeared on the websites of Walla and Globes. The plenary session and the "Gender in the Public Sphere and in Divorce" breakout session were both broadcast live on the Hartman Institute website. Approximately 250 people attended the conference remotely. 
Following the plenary session, the audience split up into six parallel sessions on timely subjects (see program) that inspired discussion and questions from the audience. The entire event was accompanied by the sounds of live drummers who played in the Institute’s courtyard.
To watch the plenary (in Hebrew) click here .
Click here for media coverage of the conference (in Hebrew).
For a selection of photos from the event, click here .

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