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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.
Just Vision is an organization based in Washington, US and Jerusalem. Their mission is to:
“Generate awareness and support for Palestinians and Israelis who pursue freedom, dignity, security and peace using nonviolent means”.
This includes publishing interviews with peace-makers and making prize-winning documentary films on non-violent protest in Israel and Palestine. Their website is an excellent resource for information and I am finding it very useful as an aid in my research. The interview with Eliyahu, done in 2010, is very interesting in the examples he gives of how best to build bridges and his own journey to becoming a peace-maker. The article has extensive footnotes and speaks as much of the very real difficulties of this kind of work as it does of its successes. Here is a short taster and below is the link to read the full interview on the website.
I was asking, what is the spiritual underpinning, what does Judaism have to say? I started opening up to ideas about Hashem and truth and God. When the Gulf War was over, I went to Egypt. I studied Islam, and spent a lot of time in a mosque. I was searching for truth. I was invited to a traditional Sufi gathering, with Egyptian Muslim Sufis dressing in white robes, chanting and swaying. It was a very, very profound experience for me. I spent a long time there and I was really drawn to Islam, it was a beautiful path. But there was a voice in my head calling me back to Israel.
This time I ended up working as a goat herder in the Galilee for a religious Jewish mountain man. I spent a lot of time in meditation out in the fields of the lower Galilee, and felt like I could connect with the tradition. That’s when I started wrapping t’fillin and started growing my peyot, I always tuck them back. That was in 1994. I also spent a lot of time with Shlomo Carlebach, before he passed away. He was a big influence. I would watch how he interacted with people and helped them return to their roots, and how he respected anyone of any religion who came to him. He always said you have to have “holy chutzpah.”
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.
This is a very interesting article in Haaretz newspaper reporting on guided visits to Yad Vashem of mixed Israeli and Palestinian groups. The purpose is to inform and to encourage compassion and discussion. As one Jewish visitor says, “And building understanding and compassion is exactly what the Tiyul-Rihla trip to Yad Vashem is about. “The idea behind the initiative is to expose each side to the other side’s narrative, and to have a very deep conversation about it,” explains Israeli journalist and activist Nir Boms, one of the idea’s originators.”