Tamar Asraf: Bridge Between Two Worlds

May 14, 2015  

The granddaughter of Holocaust-surviving Zionist pioneers, Tamar Asraf grew up in a society of caring, idealistic secular left Meretz youth. They often discussed the future and how they can be a part of making Israel a safer and better country. And they were active in the peace movement, demonstrating in favor of the Oslo Accords.

They did not like the religious, nor the residents of Judea and Samaria. “We had very strong opinions about many things,” Tamar explains, “but actually, we had never met them; we never had a conversation with them, not with the haredim and not with the settlers. We only had conversations with Arabs, Palestinians and with Bedouins. Yet this did not disturb us from feeling that they were the most terrible people on earth.”

In the army, Tamar met religious people for the first time, and was surprised to find she liked and respected them. But it was her witnessing of a strange ceremony on a Saturday night which included sniffing leaves and holding hands up to a flame which made Tamar think, “These Jews are idol worshippers! Thank G-d I’m on my way to Japan to study Zen Buddhism!” When she discovered they were simply making Havdalah, which Jews do every Saturday night, her embarrassment was deep and personal.

Now serving as the spokeswoman for the Binyamin Regional Municipality, Tamar loves to bring groups of leftist youth on tours of Judea and Samaria. “I understand them. I’ve been there.” In addition, she models respectful and loving interactions with people from a completely different perspective to her neighbors. “Look at those people. I was once them,” she says. “Even though it seems like I made a great change in my life, it wasn’t that great, because I stayed the same person, the same morals, the same values, still caring about people. These are things that I carry with me.”

Tune in to hear Tamar tell her story, and you can’t help but be inspired by this warm, caring woman who serves as a healing bridge within Israeli society.

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