Amidst all the news about the escalation of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, a movement called “Choose Life”, will organize Jews and Arabs from all over the world to learn, pray, talk and fast on Tuesday, July 15th.
The organizers are Jews and Arabs from the West Bank who live and work side by side. Their effort is to create a path of nonviolent protest through a joint fast. For the Jews, the 17th of Tammuz is a fast day which commemorates the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70AD. Tuesday is also the 18th day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims fast from dawn until sunset.
The idea to get together for a joint prayer session started after the kidnapping of the three Israeli boys. “We heard from the Palestinians that they weren’t sleeping at night, that they found themselves looking at their children, and thinking about the three boys,” said Eliaz Cohen who lives on kibbutz Kfar Etzion. “We spoke about our hopes and dreams.”
After the three Israeli teens and the Palestinian teen were found murdered, the group looked for another way to share their grief and mourn. The idea for a joint fast spread through Facebook and includes synagogue communities and mosques in the US, London, Paris and Kuwait.
This effort brings support from the Israeli Orthodox world ( Rabbis Benny Lau, David Lau and Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, and Masorti Rabbi Tamar Elad Appelbaum) and secular Israelis.
Perhaps, this small but organized effort will gain the attention of the world and its leaders to find another way to respond to the extremists who initiated acts of violence against the teens, our most innocent victims.
If nothing else, it offers an opportunity for Jews and Muslims around the world to share our mutual concerns and see what we have in common; our families, our dreams for the future and our hopes for peace.