Partners for Peace, Day Four
Day four from Rabbi Drill in Israel:
Shavua tov! Wishing everyone a good week ahead.
Shabbat went out here in Jerusalem at 6:15 with havdalah and a teaching perfect for our mission here in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Rabbi Len Gordon suggested that the sharp distinctions drawn in the blessings of havdalah – between holy and secular time, light and dark, the people Israel and other people, the seventh day and the six working days – create a hierarchy where one half of the dichotomy is judged as good and the other as bad. Wouldn’t it make a better world if the distinctions drawn did not lead us to make judgments against the other? When will we understand that judging the other to their detriment creates a world based on fear and distance?
We began our day on Friday with the lessons of what happens in the most heinous instance of creating hierarchy and judging the other negatively as we visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s Museum of the Shoah. I have toured Yad Vashem many times, but the impact of being there with an interfaith group was profound. Hearing stories and new information, I saw tears in everyone’s eyes. Language was no barrier when the Hebrew memorial prayer was chanted. After walking silently through the Children’s Memorial with its infinite number of flickering candles, my clergy partner, Reverend Barbara Hoffman, fell into my arms to weep. As Holocaust scholar Shlomo Balsam told us, “Yad Vashem does not only tell the tragic story of the Jewish people but of all humanity.”
Before Shabbat came in, we met with Kadi Dr. Iyad Zahalka to learn about Muslim Friday prayer. Gathering to pray and celebrate together each Friday on the day of the creation of humanity is a decree of the Koran. Muslims live from Friday to Friday, seeking to be close to Allah and to each other. Kadi is a judge of Sharia’a Law much as a rabbi adjudicates Halacha (Jewish law) on matters of personal status here in Israel. Dr. Zahalka is the chief judge for all of Jerusalem’s Sharia’a courts and is a lecturer at Tel Aviv University and Bar Ilan University. It was a privilege to learn from this gentle, articulate man.
Shabbat came in with my greatest gift of all: Sarah, Sagi and Josh as my guests for the entire Shabbat.
The group walked to Azarat Yisrael, the Egalitarian platform of the Kotel, for Kabbalat Shabbat prayer. Back at the hotel, we shared Shabbat dinner and I think that nothing will top the feeling of being able to bless my children surrounded by my new friends on this mission. My kids and I spent a completely relaxed Shabbat praying, eating, walking and catching up. In the afternoon, our group studied Torah and gospels together. After havdalah, my Christian colleagues taught us about Sunday worship, sharing examples of an invocation, teaching, and giving testimony. The highlight for me by far was hearing Reverend Tommie Pierson sing To God Be the Glory in his beautiful tenor voice.
We walked together to a popular Jerusalem cafe for dinner and a private concert by Wast el Tarik (Middle of the Way), a mixed Jewish-Arabic ensemble.
As the group leader explained, two musicians from West Jerusalem and two from East Jerusalem live only 20 minutes apart, but in reality, so much further away than that. Music becomes a way for them to create together and to know each other’s lives and realities. Music is the middle place where they can meet. Person by person, song by song, they yearn to heal the brokenness in this land.
Shavua tov! Blessings for peace from Jerusalem,
Rabbi Paula Mack Drill