The Value of Culture – Channa Pinchasi, Dr. Eilon Schwartz, and Shaharit Fellows

Israeli society is seen as being shot through with countless fissures, that threaten to tear the country to pieces. But what if we were to approach this multitude of fissures as a treasure to be capitalized on rather than as cracks to be mended?

How would Israel’s “town square” look if public policy were to respect the place of each and every culture, not as an ultimate end, but as an opening, a starting point for a lively, colorful meeting of worlds and perspectives, which would ultimately change us all?

At Shaharit, we approach culture with respect and view it as an expression of the most basic intuition of man as a social creature who seeks meaning in partnership with others. The current cultural flowering is in part a product of Israel’s cultural capital. A creation of hundreds and even of thousands of years—from the God-fearing awe of Yom Kippur and Ramadan to the strains of Christmas carols and Sabbath zmiros—it is part of the stirring, brimming cultural creativity that has developed in Israel in such a short, compressed span of time. An “Israeliness” that means something will know how to make the most of this treasure, to allow each culture the safe space it needs in order to be open to its surroundings, open to the challenges that the shared task and values of “being Israeli” pose.