"Judaism, Christianity and Islam all teach peace.
. .however, they are corrupted to fuel hatred and violence. . .(and) we are
left to wonder if religion is in fact the problem or the solution."
Thus communicates Dr. Ron Kronish, rabbi and educator, and Director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI):
champions KEDEM -- Voices for Religious Reconciliation -- which in December,
2004 modeled a revolution of religious cooperation in the Middle East.
You can read about it:
In December, meeting in depth were (1) 14 local grass-roots religious leaders from across Israel, (2) seven mainstream Orthodox rabbis from synagogues, schools and yeshivot, and (3) seven Israeli Arab religious leaders imams, sheiks and ministers from Israeli towns and villages.
For the first time in Israel, this quality and diversity of local religious leaders met for such a sustained, systematic dialogue process, including: getting to know one another on a personal level, studying religious texts of the different religions together on themes of mutual interest, and conducting serious and substantive discussions on the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Thus is born a new breed of Middle East institution, the Kedem Institute for Learning and Reconciliation:
Muslims and Jews are changing, moving
toward one another in North America, too.
In New Orleans, Louisiana last week, January 14-16, 2005, congregants from Masjidur Raheem (Mosque of the Merciful) and Touro Synagogue took their first steps toward mutual trust and respect.
The Jewish congregation, founded in 1828, is the oldest Jewish house of worship in America beyond the original thirteen colonies.
The "Weekend of Peace and Friendship" including joint prayer, education, community service, fellowship and athletics is described by The Louisiana Weekly, at:
Ottawa, Canada, "Never doubt that a small spark can light a prairie
fire," says Muslim physician Qais Ghanem ( Ghanems@rogers.com ), a founder of the
2-year-old "Potlucks for Peace" (P4P). Their instructive Web
site is at:
Here is how the 50-member Dialogue in Ottawa, Canada helped other Muslims and Jews begin 2005.
We are beginning to better understand "All is One."
We are beginning to live "as if."
Published in The Ottawa (Canada) Citizen -- Monday, 10
Cultures come together over good food
Potluck for Peace unites Muslims and Jews who are
seeking solutions to the Mideast conflict, writes Heba Aly.
By Heba Aly / The Ottawa Citizen
While Palestinians in the West Bank took to the polls in an election that many feel will bring change to the Middle East conflict, Muslims and Jews in Ottawa did their part to make peace.
With a sign reading "P4p" on the door, Bahija Reghai's Vanier home hosted more than a dozen people from the Potluck For Peace group, bringing together members of both cultures to eat and talk politics.
"The Arabs and the Jews have to talk to each other to establish good relationships and together we can maybe come up with ideas as to how to solve this conflict in the Middle East," says Muslim Qais Ghanem, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa. "There are many peace-loving people in both camps."
Jonathan Wouk, a retired Jewish chaplain, says there are people in the group who had never even spoken to a member of the opposite community until they joined.
"The one thing that we could possibly do is to strengthen within our respective communities those elements which are seeking resolution rather than victory, resolution rather than triumph of righteousness," he says.
"The food varies from good to great," he adds. "There's always that little incentive."
From smoked meat, a traditional Jewish food, to harira, a soup originating in Morocco, food was certainly a big part of the evening. But even more interesting was the passionate discussion that followed, in which Arabs and Jews discussed the problems in the Middle East without the banter and hatred that often accompanies such dialogue.
Instead, Ms. Reghai's living room was filled with laughter and a warm, welcoming feeling. "We've become really fairly good friends," says Dr. Ghanem. "When we talk to each other, we don't hurt anymore."
Monzer Zimmo, a Palestinian from Gaza who immigrated to Canada, says he is against Israel, not Jews. Israeli bulldozers uprooted 360 orange trees from his farm a few months ago, he said during the meeting, but that hasn't stopped him from embracing Jews in his community.
"Jews to me are human beings just like me," he said. "We have to go towards the concept of living together as human beings."
When asked how the group he founded two years ago could make a difference to the problems in the Middle East, Dr. Ghanem answered, "Never doubt that a small spark can light a prairie fire."
The group now has 52 members and meets once a month. If you are interested in joining Potluck For Peace, please call Dr. Ghanem at 613-737-9393.