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Jews, Muslims, and Christians all had holidays on Saturday, October 4th

5 10 2014

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The world’s three Abrahamic faiths are bridged their great divide in a pretty wonderful way this Saturday.

Yom Kippur, Eid Al-Adha, and St. Francis of Assisi’s Feast Day all fell on the same date this year — October 4.

In fact, this is the first time the important Jewish and Muslim holidays have overlapped in more than three decades. The last time it happened was in 1981, according to the Times of Israel.

Yom Kippur, which started at sundown on Friday, is a “Day of Atonement” for Jews. Much of the holiday is spent in the synagogues, where people seek to mend their relationship with God and ask for forgiveness from sins.

Muslims will used the day to remember the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his most treasured possession, his son, in order to obey Allah’s commands.

And Christians were celebrating the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, by bringing their four-legged friends to church for a special blessing.

It’s a time of prayer for all three faiths, according to the Religion News Service. The beautiful Kol Nidre prayer is sung in synagogues on Yom Kippur. Muslims came together to pray in mosques, saying a “takbir,” or “God is great” prayer. For the Feast of St. Francis, faithful Christians may meditate on the saint’s famous “Canticle of All Creatures.”

The best way to respond to this incredibly holy coincidence is by recognizing it for what it really is — a trifecta of awesome.

Think about it: This is an incredible opportunity for Muslims, Jews, and Christians to take a step back and really appreciate the wonderful way that religion makes meaning in people’s lives and to live together in peace.

So Tzom Kal, Eid Mubarak, and blessed Feast of St. Francis!

 

Source: Huffington Post

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In a time of anger & blame, some seek love & forgiveness

13 07 2014

This is what human spirit looks like:

Rabbi Dr. Yakov Nagen and Sheik Ibrahim Abu-el Hawa at peace manifestation called "Jerusalem Hug", June 2013.

Rabbi Dr. Yakov Nagen and Sheik Ibrahim Abu-el Hawa at peace manifestation called “Jerusalem Hug”, June 2013.

An Arab guy named Haj Ibrahim Ahmad Abu el-Hawa, and an unnamed Jewish guy in a knitted yarmulke hugging each other in front of the Old City walls of Jerusalem, during an event called The Big Hug, on June 24, 2013. Photo by Sarah Schuman/FLASH90

An Arab guy named Haj Ibrahim Ahmad Abu el-Hawa, and an unnamed Jewish guy in a knitted yarmulke hugging each other in front of the Old City walls of Jerusalem, during an event called The Big Hug, on June 24, 2013. Photo by Sarah Schuman/FLASH90

Jeremy, a Jew, and Sulome, an Arab. "He calls me neshama, I call him habibi. Love doesn’t speak the language of occupation.", says Sulome.

Jeremy, a Jew, and Sulome, an Arab. “He calls me neshama, I call him habibi. Love doesn’t speak the language of occupation”, says Sulome.

 For more information about Jerusalem Hug, please click on the link below:

www.jerusalemhug.org

 





Israel ultra-Orthodox Jews draft law passed by Knesset

13 03 2014

JERUSALEM (Associated Press) — Israeli lawmakers passed a contentious law on Wednesday meant to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military, the culmination of a drive for reforms that has seen mass protests by the religious community in Israel and beyond.

The issue of conscription of the ultra-Orthodox is at the heart of a cultural war in Israel. The matter featured prominently in elections last year that led to the establishment of the center-right government, which has pushed for the new legislation.

Wednesday’s vote passed 67-1 in the 120-member Knesset. Opposition lawmakers — all 52 of them — were absent, boycotting the vote to protest what they say are strong-arm tactics by the ruling coalition meant to push through a series of laws in parliament this week.

“The change begins tomorrow morning and it is expected to transform the face of Israeli society unrecognizably,” said Yaakov Peri, from the Yesh Atid party, which has led the drive for draft reforms.

Since Israel’s founding in 1948, the ultra-Orthodox, who make up about 8 percent of Israel’s 8 million citizens, have largely been allowed to avoid military service in order to pursue religious studies. In contrast, most secular Jewish men perform three years of compulsory service.

The stark difference in the society continues well into adulthood. Older religious men often don’t work and collect welfare stipends while continuing to study full time.

The ultra-Orthodox insist their young men serve the nation through prayer and study, thus preserving Jewish learning and heritage. But the exemptions have enraged secular and modern Orthodox Israelis who say the ultra-Orthodox are not doing their fair share.

Proponents of the law say looping the ultra-Orthodox into the military will lead to their further integration into the workforce.

Israel’s central bank chief and international bodies, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, have warned that high unemployment in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors threatens Israel’s economic future.

Under the law, the army would be required to draft an increasing number of ultra-Orthodox Jews each year, with the goal of enlisting 5,200 ultra-Orthodox soldiers — roughly 60 percent of those of draft age — by mid-2017. Israel would grant financial incentives to religious seminaries that send their students to the army.

If the ultra-Orthodox community does not meet that quota by then, the law calls for mandatory service for ultra-Orthodox Jews and criminal sanctions for draft-dodgers.

The legislation has sparked large demonstrations by the ultra-Orthodox, including a rally last week in Jerusalem that drew hundreds of thousands of people. Early this week, tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York protested against the legislation.

But some secular groups have also complained, both because it will take three years for the law to fully go into effect and because it falls short of the near-universal conscription required of other Israeli men.

The draft issue is part of a broader debate about the role of religion in Israel. With poverty and unemployment high in the religious sector, voices have emerged criticizing the ultra-Orthodox education system, which minimizes studies of subjects like math and English in favor of religion.

The ultra-Orthodox have also come under fire for attempting at times to impose their conservative values, such as separation of men and women, on the broader population. Ultra-Orthodox rabbinical authorities also hold a monopoly over rituals like weddings and burials.

Coalition members praised the law, but emphasized the need for unity after the vote.

Yitzhak Vaknin, a lawmaker with the opposition Shas, an ultra-Orthodox party, said he opposed the law because of the criminal sanctions.

“We understand there is a need to participate in things, but there is also a great duty of the people of Israel to study Torah,” he said.

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish youth holds a sign during a mass prayer in Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews held a mass prayer in Jerusalem on Sunday in protest at the bill that would cut their community's military exemptions and end a tradition upheld since Israel's foundation. Photo: Reuters/Nir Elias

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish youth holds a sign during a mass prayer in Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews held a mass prayer in Jerusalem on Sunday in protest at the bill that would cut their community’s military exemptions and end a tradition upheld since Israel’s foundation. Photo: Reuters/Nir Elias





ISRAEL: Tel Aviv mayoral candidate, launches campaign to mute Muslim call to prayer in Jaffa

11 10 2013
Jaffa, one of the oldest ports in the world, today Arabic neighborhood of Tel-Aviv. Mentioned in Olt Testament four times, Jaffa was the port prophet Jonah embarked from before he was swallowed by a whale.

Jaffa, one of the oldest ports in the world, today Arabic neighborhood of Tel-Aviv. Mentioned in Old Testament four times, Jaffa was the port prophet Jonah embarked from before he was swallowed by a whale.

by Simone Wilson / Jewish Journal

What would life be like in Jaffa without the Muslim call to prayer blaring over crackly loudspeakers five times a day, lulling the hipsters and bohemians to sleep each night with its sweet Otherness and making the Muslim third of Jaffa’s population feel a little more at home in a hard Jewish nation?

likud_mosqueTel Aviv Deputy Mayor Arnon Giladi, the right-wing city councilman who will represent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party in the Tel Aviv mayoral election this month, wants to find out.

Jaffa is a former Arab port town that was swallowed by the city of Tel Aviv in 1948 but never quite integrated. Today, the neighborhood retains its Islamic arches and headscarves, despite a new Jewish majority. But Deputy Mayor Giladi apparently doesn’t find the same charm in this slice of Palestine as the alt-Tel Aviv artists who have all but overtaken the hood: According to a Hebrew article on Ynet and a translation over at the Daily Beast, Giladi and his flack set about wallpapering Jaffa’s surfaces in troll-y campaign posters on Monday night. The posters promise to “silence the Muezzin,” or the men who recite the call to prayer in Jaffa, and “return Jaffa to Israel.” These slogans are plastered over a background photo of the Nouzha Mosque on Jerusalem Boulevard, the most popular modern mosque in Jaffa.

And in case Giladi’s big F-U to Jaffa’s historic Muslim community wasn’t loud enough, the Likud party posted an explanation to its official blog the next morning (again, translation by the Daily Beast):

On Tuesday night the Likud-Beiteinu party’s branch in Tel Aviv-Jaffa distributed flyers and posters calling for the silencing of the muezzin, the Muslim call for prayer. Distributed throughout all the neighborhoods of Jaffa, the slogans on the flyers and posters call for the law regarding noise pollution to be enforced on mosques, and for a halt to the spread of the Islamist party.

Radical leftist activists and Islamist organizations have in recent years gained control of the public discourse in Jaffa. The Likud-Beiteinu have decided once again to bring this matter to the public’s attention, because this past Yom Kippur and throughout the entire month of the holy days, Jewish residents of Jaffa lodged numerous complaints about the holiness of those days being methodically disturbed in order to create a hostile atmosphere. Radical leftists and Islamist organizations have turned Jaffa into their playground, with the obvious intention of cutting it off from Tel Aviv and the rest of Israel.

Arnon Giladi, deputy mayor of Tel Aviv and chairperson of the Likud-Beiteinu’s Tel Aviv branch: “In recent years Jaffa has been occupied by radical leftists and Islamists who are trying, via religious education and [political] activism, to separate Jaffa from Israel and cut it off from Tel Aviv. We will act to correct this situation and develop a plan to ensure that Jaffa maintains its Jewish character. It is unacceptable that an autonomous Palestinian national entity exists just a few kilometers from downtown Tel Aviv, detached from the State of Israel’s values.”

So this is clearly about more than “noise pollution.” If Likud politicians were so into keeping the quiet, they would have stuck a cork in the pounding party-Jew trance of that psychedelic Na Nach van years ago. More likely, Likud members, notorious among Israel’s Left for helping incite a race riot against African asylum seekers in South Tel Aviv last year, just can’t stand to see their great modern Jewtopia overrun by non-Jews. (Even though the Israeli government’s haphazard attempt to join Tel Aviv with Jaffa, an apple with an orange, allowed the awkward middle ground to become the segregated ghetto it is today.)

Riad Mahamit, a Muslim resident I found standing outside the Nouzha Mosque, said his is the same golden voice that recites the call to prayer through the mosque’s loudspeaker each day. Despite Giladi’s threats, said Mahamit, “I’m not stopping, ever.”

Mahamit and a handful of other Jaffa residents told me that Jews and Arabs are relatively at peace in Jaffa (save for the occasional march or price tag), and that a separatist ban like the one Giladi is proposing would only serve to pit them against each other. “All the people here don’t have a problem,” he said. Motty Ohayon, a Jewish resident of Jaffa who lives right around the corner from the Nouzha Mosque, agreed: He said that although the blare of the muezzin often wakes him up in the wee hours, that’s just part of life in Jaffa.

“I don’t care,” said Ohayon. “Only Arnon Giladi cares.”

Yoel Golvert, a young native of Haifa studying at Tel Aviv Academic College in Jaffa, said: “I could live without it, but it’s such an old custom. And I’m a visitor here.” He explained that the Israeli government pays him a monthly stipend to attend the college, located across from the Nouzha Mosque. “Jaffa’s getting bigger — for the Jewish scene at least,” he said.

“It’s like to say to the Jewish people that they can’t make noise with the horn — the shoffar — during Yom Kippur,” said Adi, a cab driver and self-proclaimed atheist Jew who did not wish to give his last name because “we live in a very delicate situation.”

Rami Sawaed, the Muslim clerk at a liquor store near the mosque, was especially suspicious of Giladi’s intentions: “This is a political exercise for him to take Jewish [votes],” said the clerk. “This is not Tel Aviv — this is Jaffa.” When asked what he thought would be the consequences of silencing the muezzin, Sawaed said only: “Intifada.”

I didn’t spot any of Giladi’s posters over a full afternoon in Jaffa today, but they could very well have been torn down by a fierce opposition campaign that has reportedly taken shape since Likud’s midnight leaflet party. In response to Giladi’s campaign tactic, Wahl Mahmoud, chairman of the southern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, issued a stern call for religious freedom to Channel 7:

“Over the past several years we have had excellent relations between Arabs and Jews. We coexist in a manner that cannot be seen anywhere else in Israel. We respect synagogues and Jewish holidays. But if they try to start problems over the call to prayer, they are in for a real fight. It is not noise, but a part of the ‘soundtrack’ of Jaffa, which includes the call to prayer and church bells. I live near the border of Bat Yam, near a Breslov synagogue, where they go out into the street to recruit people for prayers. I am happy to see someone reminding people of their religious obligations.”

Even the Church of Scientology has found a home in Jaffa, in the iconic shell of what used to be the Alhambra Cinema. After spending two hours on personality test and analysis at the Scientology building on my way home, the familiar call of the muezzin as I rejoined my fellow Earthlings was enough to give me the warm fuzzies all through Little Sudan.





PHOTO ESSAY: Jewish women take ownership of traditionally male rituals

15 07 2013

By /The Huffington Post

These Jewish women are shaking up the establishment in Israel by participating in rituals usually reserved for men only.

Chaya Baker was ordained as a rabbi. Tamar Saar has read from the Torah, the Jewish holy scroll. Anat Hoffman demands that women be allowed to pray as men do at a key Jerusalem holy site.

Depending on whom you ask, these women are either pioneers or provocateurs.

They are part of the liberal Reform and Conservative streams of Judaism, which allow women to perform rituals typically reserved for men under Orthodox Judaism, the dominant form of Judaism in Israel. They say they are exercising egalitarian worship, which runs counter to the traditions of Israel’s Orthodox establishment.

Under Orthodox tradition, women can’t become rabbis, nor can they perform a number of rituals men do.

The liberal denominations make up the majority of Jews in the United States, the world’s second largest Jewish community. What has emerged is a growing rift between the world’s two largest Jewish communities, which often disagree about religious affairs.

Baker became ordained as a rabbi in 2007. She performs many of the same duties a male rabbi would, such as holding prayer services, counseling congregants and leading study groups. But because of her affiliation to the Conservative movement, she is limited in the ceremonies she can perform. For example, the unions of the couples she marries are not recognized in Israel. They must have a second ceremony either with an Orthodox rabbi in Israel or travel abroad to marry.

Baker, 35, said many Israelis have become alienated by the Orthodox grip on many aspects of society and that the more liberal streams offer a Judaism that jives with a modern Israeli’s outlook. She said she sees a growing recognition in Israeli society of the more marginal streams, and with that, a greater role for women in Judaism.

“People are changing their concepts of gender roles within Judaism,” Baker said.

Saar is one of the few 12-year-old Israeli girls who are having Bat Mitzvah ceremonies as boys do. In this rite of passage marking the transition from childhood to adulthood, they study a particular portion of the Torah and read from it during the ceremony.

Saar wore an orange dress accented with a white and orange-pink prayer shawl she made herself as she recited the biblical passage in front of nearly 100 family members and friends in May. Tamar’s two older sisters also had Reform Bat Mitzvah ceremonies like hers, and she said more girls in Israel should, too.

“Girls make up half of the world’s population, and it is stupid that men are worth more, because we are exactly like them,” Saar said.

One of the most prominent groups pushing for the right of women to worship as men do is the “Women of the Wall.” The Jewish women’s group, led by Hoffman, holds monthly prayer services at the Western Wall, a remnant of the biblical Temple compound and the holiest site where Jews can pray, where they perform rituals Orthodox Judaism reserves for men.

Hoffman, often draped in a pink, purple and white prayer shawl, has been arrested for what she says is her right to pray as she wishes. The Western Wall’s ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz, has called the women “provocative,” but an Israeli court has upheld their right to pray there.

The court ruling is one of a string of recent achievements by Reform and Conservative streams in Israel. Israeli officials have proposed building an area for mixed male-female prayer at the Western Wall to accommodate those streams. The area currently has separate prayer zones for men and women.

Last year, Israel agreed to grant state funding to some non-Orthodox rabbis. Many Orthodox rabbis are paid by the government.

In 2010, the Israeli government froze a contentious bill that would have strengthened Orthodox control over Jewish conversions. The same year, Israel began allowing Israelis with no declared religion to marry outside the strict religious establishment – giving hope to many who reject the Orthodox monopoly on family matters. Civil marriages are generally banned in Israel.

Rabbi David Golinkin, who heads the Conservative Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, said that positive trend is attributable to Israelis’ search for an alternative to Orthodox Judaism. He said he sees greater recognition for the liberal streams, and the rights they grant women, continuing.

“There’s a growing recognition that there is more than one way to be Jewish. It’s legitimate to be Jewish in different ways, and the state of Israel has to serve of all its citizens,” Golinkin said.

Here’s a gallery of images from The Associated Press showing women performing Jewish rituals in Israel.

pioneers1

Israeli Rabbi of the Ramot Zion community, Chaya Baker, puts on Tefilin, also known as Phylacteries, at a synagogue in Jerusalem. Photo taken Wednesday, June 19, 2013.

pioneers3

Israeli Rabbi of the Ramot Zion community, Chaya Baker, poses with members of the community for a photo at their synagogue in Jerusalem. Photo taken Wednesday, June 19, 2013.

pioneers2

Israeli youth Tamar Saar, center, poses for a photo with the Rabbi of their community, Maya Lebovich, right, and her parents at a synagogue in Mevaseret Zion near Jerusalem. Photo taken Tuesday, June 18, 2013.

pioneers4

Israeli youth Tamar Saar, left, poses for a photo with the Rabbi of their community, Maya Lebovich, at a synagogue in Mevaseret Zion near Jerusalem. Photo taken Tuesday, June 18, 2013.

jewish women

Israeli Rabbis Miriam Berkowitz, left, and Valery Stessin, of the Kashuvot organization for pastoral care, also known as spiritual support, pose for a photo at a hospital in Jerusalem. Photo taken Thursday, June 20, 2013.

pioneers6

Israeli Rabbi and Torah scribe, Hanna Klebansky, poses for a photo at a synagogue in Jerusalem. Photo taken Wednesday, June 19, 2013.

pioneers7

Israeli Rabbi and Torah scribe, Hanna Klebansky, left, poses for a photo with members of the community at a synagogue in Jerusalem. Photo taken Wednesday, June 19, 2013.

pioneers8

Israeli Rabbi and Jewish law “Decider”, Diana Villa, poses for a photo at the Schechter Institute of Jewish studies where she teaches in Jerusalem. Photo taken Sunday, June 16, 2013.

pioneers9

Israeli Rabbi and Jewish law “Decider”, Diana Villa, center, poses for a photo with colleagues at the Schechter Institute of Jewish studies where she teaches in Jerusalem. Photo taken Sunday, June 16, 2013.

pioneers10

The chairman of the Women of the Wall organization, Anat Hoffman, poses for a photo in Jerusalem. Photo taken Thursday, June 20, 2013.





On Thanksgiving, Jews And Muslims Volunteer Together Despite Middle East Violence

22 11 2012

Muslim and Jewish volunteers feed the homeless at the Greater New York Muslim-Jewish Feeding the Hungry event at St. Mary’s Eipsocopal Church in New York City. RNS photo courtesy Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

By Lauren Markoe/Religion News Service

WASHINGTON, USA – It’s an idea that feels particularly touching this Thanksgiving: American Jews and Muslims banding together to help the homeless and other needy people.

The interfaith collaboration has been going on for five years, but the recent exchange of rockets between Gaza and Israel is weighing especially hard on both communities this week. That’s why a joint session of sandwich making or a group visit to a nursing home has taken on added significance.

“In this time of warfare it was a beautiful experience to see the two come together,” said Haider Dost, a Muslim student at Virginia’s George Mason University who worked with Jewish students to feed the homeless Sunday (Nov. 18) in Franklin Park, just blocks from the White House.

The Franklin Park event is one of more than 17 Jewish-Muslim “twinning” volunteer projects across the nation in the days surrounding Thanksgiving fostered by the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

One of those projects forged a new partnership in Northern Virginia between the McLean Islamic Center and Temple Rodef Shalom that saw, on the weekend before Thanksgiving, children from both the mosque and synagogue together cleaning up a Maryland park. That night, members of the two congregations dined together, with the Muslim host and the temple’s rabbi both offering up prayers for peace in the Middle East.

Both the Muslims and Jews in the room tacitly understood that the dinner conversation should not veer into the violence between Jews and Muslims now dominating the news from the Middle East.

“If we were fast friends who had known each other for years already, maybe we could get together in the midst of the conflict and share our feelings,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe of Rodef Shalom. “While there are bombs falling, maybe it’s not the time to start that discussion. But the political situation made it all the more crucial that we get together.”








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