Courtesy of Eyal Gur. Translation “Unconditional Kindness”

Don’t Say, Show. Don’t Promise, Prove

When an overused and underperforming concept becomes a movement

A few days ago, I ran across a Facebook post that blew me away. The author’s request was simple and dreamy. Help me be kind to others, he wrote. Or to be more accurate, help me fulfill the concept of “love they neighbor as you love yourself.” Most slogans aren’t solutions. They are ethereal rallying cries, calls to action lacking deeds to back them up. But not this guy. He stands behind his call to action and has been for 20 years. Together with some friends, he founded a movement that focused less on words, less on liturgy, less on religious texts and more on listening. In other words, don’t stand behind the slogan — live it, be it, do it.

The seminal moment for him was Prime Minister Rabin’s murder, a painful national tragedy for Israel. Certainly not the first Jews have experienced, yet he decided to link it to another historically painful national tragedy, Tisha B’Av, the 9th of the month Av, a day of mourning for destruction of the Temple and the exile of Jews from Israel. Both pivotal moments in Jewish history that occurred against a backdrop of intra-tribal hatred when Jews turned against each other.

Twenty years ago, the author transformed destruction into dialogue, hatred into hope. It started small, in Rabin Square on the 9th of Av, where people gathered just to listen to one another. The slogan was “Tonight we don’t learn Torah,” for what is supposed to be an enriching activity is hypocritical when we mourn national tragedy. So they sat in Rabin Square, talked and listened to one another.

The movement gave new meaning to scalability. Today, all across Israel, on the 9th of Av, people sit and talk to one another, under the hashtag #אהבת_חינם, loosely translated as love freely, or unconditional kindness.

Eyal Gur and Gal Nakdimon took an overused and under performing concept “love thy neighbor” and made it a movement that continues today. Don’t just say, show. Don’t just promise, prove. And for that they are #MyJLMHeroes

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