After months of careful planning and consultation, Jerusalem saw the Tolerance Park and Monument erected near the Goldman Promenade last week. The monument and park are a gift of Polish donor, Aleksander Gudzowaty, who wanted the park to make a statement about the necessity of tolerance for peaceful coexistence in Jerusalem and around the world.
The monument is in the form of two halves of a broken column which stand divided but still linked on the ruins of a nameless and ageless temple. An olive tree grows in the middle of the split column and with its leaves seeks to encompass and shade both halves. The tree enables the two parts of the column to link together in symbolic coexistence. It cannot be known when the break will heal, when the two sides will grow back together but it can be seen that between the branches of the olive tree a new seed is sprouting, a golden grain of tolerance.
Gudzowaty's vision is that tolerance makes coexistence possible – it is the most basic and necessary requirement for different people, different cultures, different attitudes and different beliefs to flourish and develop. He believes that tolerance, understanding and acceptance of the other are the universal standard for behavior, equal to ethics and faith in importance.
The message is that tolerance is necessary, we all too often forget this essential value in our daily existence. We find many reasons to interfere in other people’s thinking, behavior and customs – unnecessarily causing pain, misunderstanding and conflict. We do not know how to be tolerant, we choose to forget, to judge others and we fail to judge ourselves. We let ourselves drift toward a void not taking responsibility for our actions.
Gudzowaty feels that it is exactly the ability of a society to be tolerant that reflects its culture as a nation and sets an example for others to follow. Lack of tolerance humiliates human society, nations and people and represents our failure to reach our potential. He hopes that as Jerusalemites strive for tolerance they will be able to reach the highest point – represented by the monument, and achieve true peace.