Black-belt MK Hamad Amar gave a karate lesson at the Knesset's open house on Tuesday. (Hillel Maeir/TPS) (Hillel Maeir/TPS)
MK Hamad Amar

Members of Knesset mingled with the general public and provided informal entertainment at a festive event celebrating the Israeli parliament’s 67th anniversary and 50 years in its current building.

Thousands attended the first-ever Open House event in the Knesset building in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The legislature opened its doors to the general public to mark 67 years since the founding of the Israeli parliament and 50 years since moving into the Knesset building on Givat Ram.

The event also celebrated the Jewish agricultural holiday of Tu B’Shvat with various ecology and environment-oriented activities, such as a cycling-produced electricity station.

“This was certainly an extraordinary and unique event both in terms of scope and the level of personal involvement and participation by the legislators themselves,” Knesset Spokesperson Yotam Yakir told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

Approximately 80 out of the 120 Members of Knesset (MKs) participated and met the general public in various informal forums and activities. MKs attended and hosted their own workshops, activities, musical performances and discussions, often giving the visitors a glimpse into their personal hobbies, interests and skills.

Visitors had the opportunity to meet, converse and even play with Israel’s legislators in an informal environment.

One such workshop was hosted by MK Hamad Amar of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Amar, who holds a black belt in karate, gave a karate lesson and even held a friendly exhibit with MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), who holds a blue belt.

Other MKs entertained visitors by showcasing their musical talents with live performances in the Chagall Lounge of the Knesset. MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) gave a piano recital, while MK Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu) impressed audiences with her singing, performing renditions of classic Israeli hits.

“As far as I am aware, there is no precedent in the world for a national legislative body opening its doors to the public to such an extent and having the Members of Parliament entertain the visitors in such an informal and direct manner,” Yakir told TPS.

Interestingly, while adults had the opportunity to attend various open debates and discussion groups with MKs on social, political and economic topics, they were also able to leave their children in the care of other MKs, who entertained the young ones with storytelling.

MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to the younger children, and MK Orly Levy-Abekasis (Yisrael Beiteinu) read from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry to a slightly more mature audience of elementary school children.

Children also enjoyed building a large-scale model of the Knesset building from lego bricks throughout the day.

“This was a celebration of personal meeting and unfiltered interaction of the Knesset with thousands of citizens from all over the country. The meeting emphasized the Knesset’s place in the Israeli public sphere since its very establishment,” stated Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein.

By: Michael Zeff/TPS
(Michael Bachner contributed to this report.)

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