On Yom Yerushalayim, the day that celebrated the unification of Jerusalem in 1967, the One Jewish People Project launched with the goal of unifying Jews from around the world and across the entire span of Jewish expression, in a show of strength and friendship.
This, said Moshe Kaplan, will not only strengthen the fabric of Israeli society, but it will also usher in the coming of geula (redemption).
“The second temple was destroyed by sinat chinam (baseless hatred) and idol worship,” said Kaplan. “People were not united and didn’t treat each other properly.”
Now, Kaplan said Jews are worshiping a different kind of idol – ourselves – and it results in a divided public.
“The way the third temple will be built is through unity. Then, we will have redemption,” he told Breaking Israel News.
Toward this end, similar to a “good deeds day,” Kaplan’s project encourages and publicizes acts of kindness, charity and brotherly love throughout the international Jewish community. His hope is that the project will “actualize the much-spoken-about desire and need for more unity among Jews through experiential activities that produce more consideration, tolerance, respect and integrity of one Jew for another.”
Kaplan’s Be A Mensch Foundation, is the result of a book that he wrote in 2009 called Be a Mensch: Why Good Character Is the Key to a Life of Happiness, Health, Wealth, and Love. The Israel-based organization creatively delivers the message of being a good person throughout Israeli society. Kaplan said the One Jewish People Project fulfills a central part of its mission.
In the project’s call for funding amongst various organizations that represent over 10 million people, the One Jewish People Project hopes to raise $1.5 million for Be A Mensch foundation’s dialogue programs in which Jews from opposing ends of the political or religious spectrum meet to find common ground. According to Kaplan, the programs “demonstrate that the ties that bind us are stronger than our differences.”
“Participants are united by our common destiny, whether religious, secular, left or right wing,” he said. “We are united by our Jewishness.”
Participating organizations that will release a call for funding and for their members to do acts of goodwill for other Jews, include United Hatzalah, Zaka, Yad Sarah, the Jewish Agency, Kav L’Noar, Shavei Yisrael, B’nai Brith, Meir Panim and more.
The program, said Kaplan, is funded by the Jewish Agency and has so far been successful than he expected, with “thousands of people wanting to join.” They also hope to pilot a dialogue program with Israeli soldiers and ultra-Orthodox Jews, two groups that rarely see eye-to-eye.
“Soldiers need to be given more recognition, as they are putting their life on the line. They are holy,” Kaplan told Breaking Israel News. He claimed that “some haredim [ultra-Orthodox] make a lot of noise but don’t represent the haredi world,” and secular Jews often break down stereotypes as well in their dialogue with haredim.
What follows these meetings, according to Kaplan, is more understanding, respect, love between two Jewish factions – and perhaps even the coming of the redemption.