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Many of you have expressed a wish to read my research. I’m very pleased to let you know that it has now been published by Routledge under the title, Sufism and Jewish-Muslim Relations: The Derekh Avraham Order in Israel. To order from Routledge click here or to order from Amazon click here. It has been a long journey to bring this project to fruition. However, it has been an enriching and spiritually rewarding journey in addition to pursuing the academic rigour this kind of work requires.
In Israel there are Jews and Muslims who practice Sufism together. The Sufi activities that they take part in together create pathways of engagement between two faith traditions in a geographical area beset by conflict. Sufism and Jewish Muslim Relations investigates this practice of Sufism among Jews and Muslims in Israel and examines their potential to contribute to peace in the area. It is an original approach to the study of reconciliation, situating the activities of groups that are not explicitly acting for peace within the wider context of grass-roots peace initiatives. The author conducted in-depth interviews with those practicing Sufism in Israel, and these are both collected in an appendix and used throughout the work to analyse the approaches of individuals to Sufism and the challenges they face. It finds that participants understand encounters between Muslim and Jewish mystics in the medieval Middle East as a common heritage to Jews and Muslims practising Sufism together today, and it explores how those of different faiths see no dissonance in the adoption of Sufi practices to pursue a path of spiritual progression. The first examination of the Derekh Avraham Jewish-Sufi Order, this is a valuable resource for students and scholars of Sufi studies, as well as those interested in Jewish-Muslim relations.
If you look to what is actually happening on the ground among the people of Israel and Palestine then you will find many initiatives that are forging better relations between Jews and Palestinians. These are too often ignored by mainstream media but the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reports that “unlikely friendships are blossoming” in its article on a documentary film, “A Third Way – Settlers and Palestinians as Neighbors” directed by Harvey Stein which follows the life of the great peacemaker Rabbi Menachem Froman whose work initiated so many of these meetings. As Haaretz reports, “Somewhere on a little piece of farmland in the West Bank, wedged between a cluster of Jewish settlements in the Gush Etzion bloc, there is a small wooden shack where unlikely friendships are blossoming. Here, Palestinians and settlers are defying the expectations and meeting as equals, with hopes for a better future.” To read the full article click here.
A film about Haifa where different groups successfully co-exist and celebrate their main religious holidays together. It is possible and there are some very interesting comments from the participants in this film. Well worth watching.
“Different communities living together in the same town in a country of conflicts, strive to find a form of coexistence that would respect the identity of each of them, allowing dialogue and peaceful coexistence. Haifa is a unique example of a form of coexistence that finds its utmost and highest symbolic expression in the Holiday of Holidays, a unique and extraordinary festival in which the most significant holidays of the three main religions of the local population — Judaism, Islam and Christianity — are celebrated at the same time.”
I wrote my book in a spirit of harmony and brotherhood. I treated it as a place, where I attempt to bridge between Islam and Judaism, and as a tool to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of these two Abrahamic traditions. The book is a sincere effort to go back to our sacred texts and reinterpret their teachings so that an open space is created to embrace religious pluralism and respect of other people’s truths. I chose to concentrate only on Islam and Judaism, sister religions that I believe are closely related to one another with roots intertwined in the land, in the language, and in the memories of shared history. The book demonstrates how, of all religions, they are by far the closest to each other in their fundamental religious tenets, practices and systems of law, and their social, cultural and ethical traditions.
This is a video about two remarkable women who are working to bring Jewish and Palestinian women together for peace. The film was made by Zej Media, who also made the film about Eliyahu McClean and Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari in the post below. It is part of a project called ‘Unusual Pairs’ in which the great peace-maker, Marc Gopin is involved. On the Zej Media website the following excerpts from this project are described, “Elana Rozenman is the founder of Trust-Emun, whose women-led activities are geared to finding the common humanity that builds trust and dispels fear among people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, religions and nations. Ibtisam Mahameed is a Palestinian Israeli peaceworker living in a small Arab-Palestinian community in Fureidis, northern Israel. A devout Muslim, she works with many groups that promote interfaith dialogue and nonviolence, including the Interfaith Encounter Association and the Golden Road. Ibtisam is deeply committed to strengthening the role of women in society, and was the first woman to run for mayor of her hometown. She recently received the “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” award from the Dalai Lama in San Francisco, CA. Together, Ibtisam and Elana work to bring Arab and Jewish women together to create lasting bonds.” In this first part of the video Elana and Ibtisam speak of the lack of women’s voices in the peace process and how they work to bring those voices in and make a difference.
This is a marvellous and moving film about the work of 2 peace-makers. It is excellent in how it shows their work and how they both speak about their path to this work. Very inspiring as an excellent example of what peace-making is about.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari, a Palestinian Sufi, who passed on two years ago and is sorely missed, was the co-founder of Jerusalem Peacemakers. He was also the head of the Naqshabandi Sufi order in Jerusalem, a role that has been passed from father to son since Sheikh Bukhari’s family came to Jerusalem from Bukhara 400 years ago. Sheikh Bukhari worked hard all his life for peace and reconciliation in Jerusalem. Eliyahu McLean, an Orthodox Jew, is the director of the Jerusalem Peacemakers and works tirelessly for reconciliation in the conviction that the resources for peace are there in the religious and spiritual traditions of the Holy Land. This video shows Eliyahu and Sheikh Bukhari talking of their work together.
“A major modern conundrum is how the Arab/Israel conflict remains unresolved and, seemingly, unresolvable. In this inspirational book, Rabbi Michael Lerner suggests that a change in consciousness is crucial. With clarity and honesty, he examines how the mutual demonization and discounting of each sides’ legitimate needs drive the debate, and he points to new ways of thinking that can lead to a solution.