Kesher Yehudi is a social movement born in response to the growing rift tearing apart our nation, with the goal of connecting us all to each other again. As a beautiful, lonely nation sharing a magnificent legacy and millions of enemies who wish to destroy us and our land, we simply cannot allow ourselves to be divided and weakened from within.
The Torah and our Jewish identity are our greatest national assets.
Our unity and social cohesion are the keys to national resilience.
It is with the fervent belief in both these statements that we strive to connect. How? Through kesher Yehudi – Jewish connection.
Kesher Yehudi works to revolutionize awareness among young intellectuals from various sectors in Israel – religious, non-religious, Ultra-Orthodox – prompting them to open-mindedly get to know a partner from the “other” sector. Our Jewish legacy belongs to all of us, and thus, partners engage in a discourse on their shared inheritance, using study of the Torah as a link to finding common ground as fascinating relationships are formed.
Over 20,000 young religious and secular individuals have already enthusiastically joined the program, studying with partners from enormously diverse backgrounds, matched merely by age, location and field of interest. Together they explore subjects of interest through a Jewish lens as they shatter stigmas, reexamine deep-rooted paradigms, and acquire a breathtaking new understanding of themselves, each other, sectorialism, and the greatest asset they own: the Torah.
Kesher Yehudi runs various programs that all share one goal: connecting and engendering long-term, one-on-one meetings with participants from diverse backgrounds, creating relationships that will offer a deep understanding of the other sector, as opposed to a short anthropologic peek. Sessions will always revolve around subjects relating to Jewish identity, Jewish wisdom, Jewish holidays, and the like.
We work with community leaders, rabbis, community centers, Jewish cultural services, student associations, youth programs, premilitary academies, and more.
In 2016, Kesher Yehudi received the prestigious Jerusalem Unity Prize from former president of Israel Mr. Reuven Rivlin, “for creating a unique platform with an enormous potential for engendering true connections and increasing feelings of unity, identification and mutuality among the Jewish nation.”
Tzili Schneider is a veteran teacher and educational leader, member of the Ultra-Orthodox mainstream, mother of eleven, and a woman who cares. Deeply.
Tzili grew up in Meah Shearim at a time when, despite its current stigma, all shades and hues of Jewish life lived together in peaceful harmony. The kaleidoscope of her childhood included long-bearded Neturei Karta, Slonim Hassidim, traditional Yemenites, irreligious neighbors (“we called them ‘hofshiyim‘ then,” she recalls with a smile), students of Lithuanian leader Rav Elyashiv, and, in her words, “we were all friends.”
As Tzili grew up, she noted that the general atmosphere in Israel outside the sheltered alleyways of her youth was diametrically different. She began to encounter hostility and mistrust, dissention and stigma. And she desperately wanted to do something, to effect a change, to bring her people together again.
Colossal dreams, unrelenting optimism, and a turbo engine that never stops in red all led her to found Kesher Yehudi, smashing through ancient barriers and creating a groundbreaking platform for impossibly diverse sectors to meet. With incredible energy, she runs from one community rabbi to the next, from Hassidic leaders to directors of premilitary programs to various opinion-setters, harnessing them all to her fiery vision.
And still, there is always room for more. Any potential partner from any segment of the Jewish nation is accepted with love and given all the support and tools necessary to promote more unity and connection.
With her trailblazing personality, Tzili has created a new genre in the film world as well: Ultra-Orthodox cinema as a powerful tool for imparting messages and conveying worldviews. Recruiting top-level professionals, Tzili produced three full-version films that promote internal identification and love of the Jewish nation, and celebrate our Jewish identity – which transcends everything.