Free Hugs in Israel

I have a feeling that when people think about Israel what often comes to mind is bad news, strife and turmoil. Those things do exist of course and they often appear in my writings though they are never the main point – always my goal is to show the beauty that shines through the ugliness: heroism revealed by terrible circumstances, compassion in the face of hatred etc.

The “bad” and the “ugly” exist but so does the good, straightforward, plain good, unmuddied by anything else.

Last week, for example, a few friends got together in Tel Aviv and decided to pass out hugs to passers by who wished to receive them. The sole purpose (or maybe it would be more accurate to say – soul purpose) of this undertaking was to make people smile and feel good.

Men and women stood in a busy part of town with signs written in Hebrew and English that said: Want a hug? Free hugs here! People walking by chose whether or not to receive a hug and from whom they wished to receive it.

In the space of a few short hours the huggers gave hundreds of hugs to people they’d before never met.

Hugging a stranger might sound like a weird undertaking. Then again, if you look at the person on the street as a fellow human being, another soul with wants and needs similar to your own, it might not seem so strange. If you can see the stranger as a member of your own family it is very easy to care about them…

Israeli slang reflects this mindset. It is commonplace to hear people who have never before met call each other by the titles of family members – brother, sister, cousin, grandma: “How are you my brother?” “What’s up sister?” “What can I do to help you grandma?”

What a world this would be if it became commonplace to have feelings of close ties to strangers! Can you imagine what it would be like to receive unconditional warmth, kindness and acceptance from all of those around us, including strangers?

The Tel Aviv huggers gave us a small glimpse of what is possible. Don’t you think that possibility is beautiful? I do!

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