Jews & Muslims Join in Fast for Peace in Isr-Pal, 17 Tammuz/ Ramadan (July 15)

 Jews & Muslims Join in Day of Fasting this Tuesday
Toward End of Violence and War between Israelis & Palestinians

During the past week, there has been a warm nation-wide response to our encouragement of Jews and Muslims especially, along with those of other religious and spiritual communities who wish, to join this coming Tuesday, July 15, in a one-day Fast for Peace, called by some a Hunger Strike Against Violence.

 This day is in both Muslim and Jewish traditions a time of Fasting from sunrise to sunset, arousing inner spiritual reflection and shared effort to turn from violence to compassion, from idolatry to celebration of the One. This year it is specially intended as a response to the worsening spiral of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

We welcome those who intend to join in the Fast to affirm their intention by clicking to both these places:

 Nationally, this call has caught on in a number of places. The American Muslim, as its name suggests the leading national (on-line) magazine of American Muslims  has joined with The Shalom Center in widely publicizing the call, and has urged Muslims to join with Jews in their localities for serious and sorrowful conversations, and for Iftar (Break-fast) after sunset..

In Philadelphia, the Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation will host a gathering for dialogue at 7:30 pm at the Al Aqsa Mosque at  1501 Germantown Avenue, followed by Iftar. (See its statement, at the end of this letter.)

The Interfaith Walk is a network that since 2003 has sponsored each spring a walk through Philadelphia of 500 to 1,000 people of all religious and spiritual traditions to model a cooperative and peace-committed relationship among communities rather than hostility, fear, and violence between them. In addition to the Walk, which pauses at diverse houses of worship for conversation and prayer, the group holds dialogues and gatherings throughout the year.

A report of the Interfaith Walk’s sponsorship of the Fast was included in an article in the Saturday morning Philadelphia Inquirer  that covered responses in the Delaware Valley to street violence and murders in Israel and Palestine, and the bombing and rocket attacks between  Israel and the Palestinian  region of Gaza.

 The article mentioned The Shalom Center’s efforts to spark the special fast, citing our mission as fostering "a transformative Judaism that can help create a world of peace." It quoted me as saying that our goal for the joint fast is to "get Jews and Muslims in the same room together in sorrow rather than in anger."

 This sharing of a fast day was originally suggested by a group of Israelis and Palestinians caught in the horrifying spiral of violence – including the atrocious murders of three Israeli and one Palestinian teen-agers and the appearance of marauding Israeli street mobs bent on pogrom-like attacks against Palestinians –-- a spiral that now has descended into military attacks that have killed more than 120 Palestinians in Gaza and have imposed air-raid shelter hiding upon Israelis all across the country.

 The call for a Fast for Peace/ Hunger Strike Against Violence  drew on the fact that Tuesday, July 15, in the Jewish calendar is the 17th of Tammuz. It commemorates the day in 586 BCE when the Babylonian Army broke through the walls of Jerusalem. Three weeks later, on Tisha B’Av (the 9th of Av) the  invaders destroyed the First Temple. The Fast therefore recalls the suffering of people subjected to  war and conquest by more powerful armies, and renews our sacred calling for compassion rather than hatred.

This year, the Jewish lunar month of Tammuz coincides with the Muslim lunar month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast on every day from sunrise to sunset. During that month Mohammed the Prophet, peace be upon him, first received the early revelations that came to make up the Quran.
Beneath this prayer I am appending the Statement of the Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation about the Tuesday Fast.

 May the One Who breathes harmony into the ultimate heights and depths of the universe breathe into us the desire and ability to make peace within our selves, among each other – among the children of Israel, the children of Ishmael, and all who dwell upon our planet.  

Shalom, salaam, peace --  Arthur


 In light of recent events in Israel/Palestine, the Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation invites everyone to be part of a day of fasting in conjunction with the international "Hunger Strike Against Violence" and to join the Peace Walk community for reflection, prayer and Iftar fast-breaking on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 7:30 pm at Al Aqsa Islamic Center (1501 Germantown Avenue, Phila.).  This fast day is during the period of Muslim Ramadan and Jewish Fast of the 17 of Tammuz.  

We also call upon all faith and secular communities to recognize the intense suffering at this time of children and families throughout the world, whether in Israel, Palestine, Central America, Syria, Iraq, Philadelphia, or elsewhere—and in so doing to more clearly see and honor each other’s humanity.  

We express our deep condolences to the Israeli and Palestinian families who have been victimized by the recent brutal outbreaks of violence.  And we lift up the noble example of reconciliation of Yishai Fraenkel (uncle of one of the deceased Israeli youth) and the equally empathetic Palestinians who visited with the Fraenkel family.   Fraenkel stated about his call to the suffering Palestinian family, “We expressed our deep empathy with their sorrow, from one bereaved family to another bereaved family...We expressed our absolute disgust with what had happened.”  And the two Palestinian visitors acknowledged, “The moment we learn to deal with each other’s pain and stop the anger against one another, the situation will be better....Our mission is to strengthen the family and also to take a step forward towards the liberation of my people....We are sorry for any harm against people, whether Jewish or Muslim. We don’t want anyone to be hurt, and want to reach a political agreement.”

(Read more: Slain Israeli teen's uncle consoles murdered Palestinian's father | The Times of Israel )

We of the Peace Walk Community ask as we have before:

What is the language of love, of Salaam, of Shalom that is at the core of all of the world’s major religions?

It is, we believe:

Creating a vision where people of different faiths and nationalities actively talk with one another rather than picking up arms and killing each other to resolve conflicts.  Ongoing fighting, regardless of which group may be perceived to have “started” a conflict, will result only in continuing a destructive cycle of revenge and retribution that reinforces old paradigms and results in loss of innocent life.  
Reaching out and listening to on another in order to hear the other’s story, even if it means temporarily suspending belief only in our own group’s story.
Respecting all human life as sacred, acknowledging the Biblical vision that all human beings are created in the image of God and that an act of violence is a desecration of God’s image.
Not standing idly by while our neighbor suffers, regardless of ethnicity or national borders; that is, doing everything possible to create equitable and just conditions for all people and responding accordingly when people are suffering unnecessarily—with the hope that such a vision will create mutual understanding, respect and peace.
Adhering to international human rights guidelines in the treatment of others, particularly civilians in the midst of armed conflict.
Speaking out against violence to stop loss of innocent lives.
With these principles in mind, we call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire in Israel and Palestine, ongoing humanitarian assistance to all victims of violence, and a plan for a permanent peace that respects the human and civil rights, safety and security of all citizens of Israel and Palestine.  

And we pray, with members of the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Baha’i faiths and others in the Peace Walk community, that people (and governments) in all parts of the U.S. and the world will call upon the most sacred and life-affirming parts of their respective traditions to find the courage, will and compassion to reach out to each other, to listen to and respect each other’s story and to actively search with an open heart for a just and peaceful solution to violent conflicts.

We welcome those who intend to join in the Fast to affirm their intention by clicking to both these places:


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