Ronit Yarosky ( RYarosky@sympatico.ca
) is a former IDF soldier who served during the first Palestinian intifada.
Nada Sefian ( Nadacharif@yahoo.com ), a Palestinian refugee who survived the 1982 invasion of
This Passover 2005, the Israeli-Canadian and Palestinian-Canadian in
Partners -- of a new breed of Arab and Jew -- they continue in their city to turn "enemies" into friends and cooperating neighbors.
Last Passover 2004, they did
what was once unimaginable to each them -- they first created a shared ceremony
for once-thought "enemies."
Side-by-side, they invented an "alternative Seder."
Read below about their second year's celebration.
It is not an empty ceremony, but one that celebrates their Montreal Dialogue Group that has grown from 40 to 150 participants since 2003.
is the power of two soon becoming a compelling, inspiring community of 150
Arabs and Jews -- Muslims, Jews, and Christians.
Take heart in this, and that "The Gandhi Project" is now launched in the
Think of Nada and Ronit, Palestinian and Jew, and of the prescription of Mahatma Gandhi:
Change will not "happen." We each must do it where we live. Believe it.
Published in the Montreal (Canada) Gazette Saturday, 23
on the Web at
Passover time to celebrate differences
Four women from the Montreal Dialogue Group have organized a seder where they will
read from the Koran, the Bible and the Torah in an exchange of history and cultures
Ronit Yarosky served in the Israeli army during the first Palestinian intifada in the late 1980s.
Nada Sefian is a Muslim Palestinian who lived through
Carmela Aigen is an observant Jew, and Dina Saikali is a Christian of Egyptian origin.
These four women might seem like an unlikely group to be organizing a seder, but they have decided Passover, which begins tonight, is the time of year to put differences aside.
The women are members of the Montreal Dialogue Group, which was started in 2003. It brings together people from Jewish and Palestinian communities in
During their Passover seder, passages from the Torah, the Bible and the Koran will be read.
"We want to celebrate our humanity and exchange of cultural customs. We want to know each other as human beings rather than enemies," said Aigen, a Hebrew teacher and co-ordinator of Hebrew and Jewish studies at
"The three monotheistic religions share a lot in common, and we want to show that to help build harmony between people."
Aigen said she used the spirit of the eight-day Passover festival, which marks the freedom and exodus of Jews from
"The message is the desire for peace and dignity for everybody," she said. "It is about liberty and redemption, which all religions share."
During the dinner, which will follow Jewish traditions, rituals and symbols, Aigen will read from the Torah, Sefian from the Koran and Saikali will recite poetry and excerpts from the Bible.
Among those attending as guest speakers will be Sheila McDonough, who teaches religious studies at
Sefian, who prepared the texts from the Koran, said while most people know Christianity shares the Old Testament with Judaism, many are unaware of its link to the Koran.
"The Koran mentions the story of Moses, and he is recognized as one of the prophets for us," said Sefian, who has a diploma in Arabic literature and Islamic studies. "The Koran details the story of the Jews in the desert and when Moses asked God to provide some food."
As part of the ceremonies, Sefian plans to bring a combination of the food that God gave the Jews in the story in the Koran, like lentils and onions.
"Ignorance makes people stay away from each other," she said. "We do not want ignorance and past sufferings to be a cause for us to hate each other."
Saikali said the advent of spring will figure in her poetry reading.
"Spring comes with light. It is born from the middle of darkness. It is about forgiveness, and we have to look for that spring inside of us," said Saikali, an English teacher.
"It is a very sensitive and highly emotional thing to talk about the wall (the barrier being erected by the Israeli government) in
For more information about the Montreal Dialogue Group, send an e-mail to MTLdialogue@sympatico.ca