This week, over 200 organizations and groups primarily in North America and Israel, across ages, religious and political divides, are marking the fourth annual 9Adar: Jewish Week of Constructive Conflict. The week is aimed at promoting a culture of constructive conflict and healthy disagreement and is an initiative of the 9Adar Project, part of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.
The 9th of Adar is the Hebrew date 2,000 years ago, when the initially constructive “disagreements for the sake of Heaven” between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai turned temporarily destructive over 18 legal issues. This resulted in, according to some sources, the death of 3,000 students.
“There is an increasing sense of feeling stuck, when it comes to public discourse, whether it be in Congress or the Knesset, on the news or online. What makes this project so exciting is the formation of a counter-culture of people advocating for healthier ways to disagree,” said organizer of the week, Rabbi Dr. Daniel Roth, Director of the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution.
Dozens of schools, some part of the Pardes Rodef Shalom Schools Program, are using 9Adar curriculum to teach students and faculty how to conduct their disagreements in a constructive, non-bullying way. College campuses are using a jointly developed Ask Big Questions discussion guide from Hillel International called, “How do we disagree?“.
In Israel, Pardes has partnered with Mosaica: The Center for Conflict Resolution by Agreement to bring 9Adar to the wider Israeli population, including non-Jews, through rebranding the initiative and calling it Dibbur Hadash (A New Speech). A forum of 15 leading organizations that engage in interpersonal mediation, intra-religious and interfaith dialogue, have joined together to promote the culture of constructive conflict with planned events throughout the country.