Yom Rabin: Jewish Day of Healthy Argument
September 26th, 2023
A powerful and timely initiative will enable people to mark Yom Rabin, October 26th, as the Jewish Day of Healthy Argument. For the Sake of Argument, Pedagogy of Partnership, A More Perfect Union, Pardes’ Mahloket Matters, and Resetting the Table are collaborating to provide educational resources, including a video guide to healthy arguments, event guides, and workshops for rabbis and educators to help people of all ages understand and experience that arguments can be productive.
On November 4, 1995 (12 Cheshvan), Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a fellow Israeli at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. The months preceding his murder were darkened by discord, incitement, and hate speech. For the Sake of Argument says that “it was disagreement in its most destructive form.” Every year since, Israelis and Jews around the world have struggled to mark Yom Rabin, the Hebrew date of Rabin’s assassination. Some teach of peace, some learn about democracy, some ignore its significance altogether.
We believe it’s time for a new tradition. Our goal is to make Yom Rabin the Jewish Day of Healthy Argument. A day on which Jews worldwide host events and programs that embrace healthy arguments. Arguments that help us talk openly about our disagreements and understand each other’s perspectives. Arguments that build bridges rather than deepening divides. Arguments that teach us that we can live together, despite our differences.
– Leaders of Yom Rabin Initiative
Yom Rabin leaders hope the initiative helps identify “evangelists” around the world for healthy arguments. In this regard, the initiative is designed to support organizations and individuals planning their own events around healthy arguments, with or without the initiative’s specific materials. A healthy argument can include a conversation in which two or more people disagree, but are able to learn something new about someone or something else; a conversation from which one learns something from a disagreement; a disagreement in which one learns something new about themselves, about someone else, or about a subject matter; or a disagreement where the goal is to learn something new, rather than to try to agree or convince.
Rabin’s assassination stands as a stark reminder of what can happen when factions of a society come to see one another as ‘other’ and enemy. Healthy argument can provide one crucial antidote to such escalation, channeling societal conflicts into greater cohesion, problem solving, and capacity to find ways forward together. We are excited to join with others organizations in marking Yom Rabin as a Day of Healthy Argument and to offer tools to help communities confront, honor, and learn even from enduring and passionate differences.
– Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, Co-CEO, Resetting the Table
In Israeli society this day takes many forms, ranging from a day in which educational leaders talk about the dangers of deep fissures in society, to a more political day that bemoans the loss of a leader who pushed an agenda for peace that wasn’t accepted across the political spectrum. Outside of Israel, in Jewish institutions, this day is marked in a variety of ways as well, ranging from commemorating the person that Rabin was to studying about the history of the attempted peace processes in Israel.
Our initiative is intended to emphasize a different part of Yom Rabin. Founded on the fact that, too often, when words run out, violence begins, we strive to help change the way the Jewish community in North America talks about our differences of opinion. The values that we hope to highlight and strengthen are sharing, rather than hiding, our differences of opinion, Being curious about different opinions, Gaining new perspectives and insights, even when (especially when?) we don’t agree.
– Abi Dauber Sterne and Robbie Gringras, co-directors, For the Sake of Argument
Visit forthesakeofargument.org/yom-rabin to access Yom Rabin resources.