From Jerusalem this morning, 20 February 2001,
here is a report from one handful of creative women and men -- Jews, Muslims,
Christians -- who welcome each other in a widening, inclusive circle of
They are a model of the waited-for "compassion and tolerance among the children of Abraham." More is needed, wherever you live.
Shalom Aleichem, Salaamu Aleikum,
Greetings from Jerusalem.
Every Friday since the outbreak of hostilities last October we have been continuing to hold our Peace Vigil in Jerusalem's Old City. Over these dark, wintery months we have witnessed many powerful exchanges between the Jewish, Muslim and Christian residents and the Israeli police force. Often there was rioting after Friday prayers on Al-Aqsa, the worshippers enraged by the edict preventing their brethren under the age of 45 from praying at the Mosque (due to security concerns). Today, the violent clashes at the Temple Mount compound have simmered down, however, the occupation continues, and the terror continues. Individuals are still frequently harassed and humiliated by the authorities and extremist neighbors in the Old City. For this reason, we continue our weekly vigil, bearing witness to suffering. Miriam, Motti and other Yeshiva students read from the Torah, Ahmad, Waseem and Mahmoud read from the Koran, and Daniel and Julie read from the Bible for compassion and tolerance among the children of Abraham.
We have also witnessed an unbelievable amount of light. People from a range of different beliefs, cultures and backgrounds have joined the Peace Vigil, including human rights delegations, conflict transformation experts, peace and interfaith groups from all over the world. On many Fridays our circle expanded to more than 120 people--Israelis, Palestinians and internationals.
In January we were joined by a group from the Dances of Universal Peace in the US. Shahabuddin led us in meditation, extrapolating teachings from many faiths and weaving them together into a universalist prayer for peace. The Compassionate Listening Tour inspired the Peace Vigil, and we closed the circle with a prayer by Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener. Together we shared a prayer circle/zikr. In late January we were joined by a delegation from the Peacemakers Community including members of the Zen Peacemakers Order from Hawaii and Europe. Eve and Roshi Bernie Glassman, founder of the Peacemaker Community, gave a talk about its three tenets, not knowing; bearing witness; and healing. The following week we were joined by Phyllis Berman and Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director of the Shalom Center. They shared powerful prayers for understanding, reconciliation, and justice.
At each of these gatherings, Haj Ibrahim Abu el Howa of the Mt. of Olives attends, he is a true beacon of hope. Rabbi Menachem Froman of Tekoa has come to bless our circle and give teachings about the Temple Mount being the focal point for peace between Jews and Muslims. He offers sources in the weekly Torah portion for peace in the Holy Land. Esther has led us in movement and dance, while Eyals Drummers for Peace join weekly with a large drum circle to attract the Jewish and Palestinian children in the neighborhood to make music together at the end of the vigils. Each week, soldiers, Haredi Jews, Arab residents of the Old City and tourists observe the circle and sometimes feel inspired to join.
The continuous presence enforces our plea for tolerance and compassion toward the other. We bear witness by reading a list, one-by-one, of all the victims since the outset of the Al-Aqsa intifada, and prayers for peace in all languages.
On the wall next to the peace vigil we are planning to paint a large mural for peace in Jerusalem with the artistic contribution Bustan LShalom poets and artists, and Hannah Aliza Omer of the Academy of Jerusalem. We have received permission from the Old City neighborhood council and hope to embark work with children of the neighborhood on this project shortly.
In addition to outreach, we are also working on direct action efforts. Bustan LShalom is organizing a three-day Peace Caravan next week where participants of the Peace Vigil and individual artists, musicians and peacebuilders. On Monday we will set off to visit hospitals, infirmaries, kibbutzim and villages to meet the people and create sacred gardens of peace. We hope to collect clothes, food, books, paint, dishes and toys to bring to individuals, families and villages in need.
We encourage you to join us on Friday mornings and expand the circle by sending us a poem, a prayer, a story to be read, a meditation exercise, a blessing, or any other (non-profit) contribution you feel is appropriate. Such invocations strengthen our group, and help pull us through the darkness of Jerusalems winter, reminding us that a peaceful spring is just around the corner
Devorah Brous (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Eliyahu McLean (email@example.com)
Ibrahim Abu El Howa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Peace Vigil is sponsored by Bustan L'Shalom and the Peacemaker Community with the support of the Academy of Jerusalem