Tourist Tip #130 / Voicing Your Opinion in Jerusalem

Tikkun olam through protest is part of Judaism. Here's what to do about it in Israel.

If you believe that helping the downtrodden and the underprivileged is an essential part of Judaism, or any religion, then tikkun olam in the form of a demonstration for (or against) something should definitely be on your itinerary in Israel.

In Jerusalem, for example, the classical soapbox site is at what is known in local parlance as Terra Sancta -- the wide sidewalk on Gaza Road near the prime minister’s official residence. Demonstrations there sometimes produce results. The mother of all such efforts was the campaign for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas for more than five years.

Recently on Friday mornings the spot has been filled by proponents of a law to endow the rights of people with autism and their families, who bear a tremendous burden, with funding for their special needs. The slogan is “1 in 100” – the birthrate for people with autism in Israel – and the symbol is the black balloon.

A demonstration in Israel is a good place to strike up conversations with strangers: What’s this about? Tell me more. You are sure to find people who are eager to speak to you, in English – they are there, after all, for a cause.
So keep your eyes open as you travel around the country and go up and talk to people when you see a crowd with placards. You might find a way to contribute your time, money or skills to improving the world here.

If you want to look in on the autism law demonstration next Friday morning from 9:00 to 11:00, any Jerusalemite will give you directions to Terra Sancta.

Vivian Eden
Vivian Eden