to destroy one life is to destroy the whole world,
As people of faith contemplating the horrendous violence in the Middle East, we are guided by the truth of this fundamental teaching which is found in both the Jewish and Muslim traditions, that to destroy one life is to destroy the whole world, and to save one life is to save the whole world.
We live in the reality of the destruction of thousands of lives in Israel and Gaza. We acknowledge the appalling massacre of 1,200 Israelis by Hamas on October 7, 2023 and the devastating war that has caused a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and has taken the lives of over 28,000 people there. We know that for the loved ones of each and every one of these individuals killed, it may surely be that their whole world is destroyed. With our hearts filled with sorrow and compassion, we say, “Enough!”
It is time for all of us, people of faith and goodwill everywhere, civilians and leaders alike, to embrace and follow the second part of this ancient and true wisdom: to save one life is to save the whole world. Let us, as a global community pledge ourselves to work with all of our being so that instead of destroying life, we can save one life, and then another, and then another, on the quest to save the whole world.
For the sake of both Palestine and Israel, and all human beings involved:
It is time for a ceasefire on both sides.
It is time for the safe release of all hostages and political prisoners.
It is time for the necessities of life – water, food, medical care, fuel, shelter and safety – to be accessible for all.
It is time for a negotiated peace now, with a path for justice, security, democracy and restoration for both sides.
It is time to rebuild the communities destroyed by war.
Call Your Congress Members to Urge Peace in the Middle East!
Emails are great, but it is even more powerful when you follow-up with phone calls. These are easy and quick, and very impactful! (If you feel a bit awkward on the phone, don't worry about it! These are super short calls and the staffers want to know what you think, not how polished you sound!)
Here is a suggested script from MVPJ, but remember to make it personal if you can. (You might add that you come from a particular faith community, OR that as a (parent, sister, brother, etc.) you can't imagine the suffering of family members whose loved ones are held or live in fear, OR you have visited the area, OR you have spiritual or other roots or connections to the region, etc.)
See below for phone numbers for U.S. Senators and Representatives in our area.
Hi, My name is ___________ from (city)_____________.
I am calling to urge Senator _________/Representative ___________ to publicly call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, including the return of Israeli hostages held in Gaza and Palestinians unfairly incarcerated in Israel.
Right now there is an extremely urgent need for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, and a ceasefire is necessary to get supplies in. I also hope the Senator/Representative will support restoring U.S. funding for UNRWA, the UN agency aiding Palestinian refugees.
Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace, security, freedom and dignity.
Please encourage Senator _________/Representative ___________ to urge the Administration to use all of its influence to acheive a ceasefire and negotiated solution, for the well-being of all the people in the region.
(If you don't see them, click "read more" for phone numbers for your calls.)
"Soul Force: MLK, Jr., the Triple Evils and American Democracy"
Please join us for the first of several speakers in a series being offered to the community by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and co-sponsored by MVPJ.
March 6, 2024, 7 p.m.
Hear Sally Abed and Alon-Lee Green from
Standing Together has become an essential voice during this difficult moment. Sally and Alon-Lee will share personal stories about the work they have done and the support system they have created through their thousands of members to maintain a group of dedicated Jews and Arabs who are devoted to creating a society capable of achieving peace, equality, and social justice for all. At a time when hope feels hard to come by, their work for a better future is a true inspiration.
REGISTER HERE. BYO brown bag lunch. Desserts provided.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Standing Together from there website.
Share the Joy of Ramadan with Us!
Ramadan happens in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is when the holy book of the Muslims, the Qur'an, was revealed. During Ramandan, Muslims fast without food or water between sunrise to sunset. The mean for breaking that fast is called the Iftar.
American Muslim Voice Foundation cordially invites the community to join them in this annual Interfaith Iftar. It will be an informative evening about the month of Ramadan and why Muslims around the globe fast during this month. You will also enjoy a delicious complimentary dinner.
Please use this Eventbrite link to reserve a spot! Kindly RSVP by March 10 to help in planning!
Monthly Multifaith Prayers for Peace and Justice
Peaceful Presence is sometimes hosted in-person, sometimes by Zoom, and sometimes hybrid (with both options - to join in person or via Zoom). Watch for updates!
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice coordinates “Peaceful Presence” gatherings, a monthly prayer service on the evening of the 11th of each month, offering a time of quiet multifaith prayers for peace and strength for the journey. All are welcome: those of all faith traditions and of no defined faith, those who are suffering at the hands of their own government, those who need a pause in the midst of intensive work on behalf of others, and all who would like to pray with others for the well-being of all. The prayer time will include elements from several religious traditions.
Prayer of Mothers for Life and Peace
God of Life
Click here to read the full prayer on a PDF with more information about the authors.
Click here to visit the Open Siddur Project webpage and read the prayer in Arabic, Hebrew and German.
The American Friends of Combatants for Peace (CfP) shared via email some profound word and experiences of the bi-national (Israeli and Palestinian) Zoom support group this week:
Jamil, CfP’s Palestinian General Coordinator, began the conversation. He looked around the Zoom room at his Israeli friends and shared that it was hard to find the words to express his sorrow, shock, and grief about what Hamas had done.
“I can’t believe this. I am seeing these images, and I don’t want to believe they are real. I cannot hold back my tears. You are my friends, my family.” Other Palestinian activists echoed words of care to Israeli members:
“I am with you. I’m going to stay with you.”
“I wish I could see you and hold you.”
At the start of the conversation, it was hard not to speak from “sides” about the pain, needs, and remorse for the violence coming from each society. After some time, Yonatan, CfP’s Israeli Executive Director, reflected, “We are talking as if we belong to the extreme parts of our communities, but we belong to each other. We chose each other. We are not our societies; we are humans.”
Words seem inadequate when deeds are so horrific as to defy the ability to string together anything that can ease the pain, lessen the fear, defuse the anger, and move the broken and wounded to doing anything other than striking back. Yet as people of faith committed to peace, we must speak words of compassion and solidarity, aloud and in silent prayer, as well as seek actions that foster healing, justice and peace.
In the face of shocking and deadly attacks by Hamas against civilians in Israel and the Israeli military response to those attacks, adding violence to violence, we grieve for each and every human being lost, wounded, suffering loss, and despairing the coming nights and days of uncertainty and pain.
We pray for the violence to cease and for the world to come together to support all who have been harmed and bring a lasting peace to a land that has suffered too much for too long. Within our own communities and nation, we commit to stand against antisemtic, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim occurence or rhetoric of any kind, and work for relationships of respect, open-heartedness and healing. Although war often leads us to think in terms of "us" and "them," we know from the very nature of our organization, that coming together in the richness of diversity is the only path to peace.
ACTION: We urge you to join with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker-based) in their call to our U.S. government to act to de-escalate the violence. Click here to TAKE ACTION NOW and send a letter to your Senators and Congress Representative. Their website makes this easy, and personalizing the letter can make it even more effective.
Peace with Justice: We affirm these words from Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. "We mourn and we pray for the safety of everyone in harm's way... We know that a true and lasting peace will not be acheived until there is a just, negotiated political solution that protects the human rights of everyone."
Contribute and Support: Here we highlight a few organizations, mostly led by both Palestinians and Israelis who are working for healing, justice and peace. We offer links for you to consider making donations or supporting in other ways.
Rebuilding Alliance - dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities. Currently their NGO partners in Gaza are delivering food and hygiene supplies.
New Israel Fund - prodemocracy organization in Israel already mobilized with war relief.
UNRWA-UN - relief for Palestinian refugees - is already established in Gaza.
IsraAid - partnering with local and civil society organizations to coordinate humanitarian efforts, providing psychosocial support and urgent aid. International NGO.
Gisha - protecting the freedom of movement for Palestinians, especially in Gaza.
Listen, Learn and Pray: Below are links to various organizations that include Muslim, Jews and Christians, with statements offering their insight and perspectives from their own experience. MVPJ does not advocate any specific statement or response. We offer these with the prayer that we can learn from one another, even when we disagree.
VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
We come together as people of diverse faiths and backgrounds to:
In the spirit of unity and holding fast to our common humanity,
We grieve for each and every human being lost, wounded, suffering loss, afraid, and despairing of the coming nights and days of uncertainty and pain.
We pray for the violence to cease, and for the world to come together to support all who have been harmed and to bring a lasting peace to a land that has suffered too much for too long.
Within our own communities and nations, we commit to stand against anti-Semitic, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim incidents or rhetoric of any kind.
As people of faith committed to peace, we gather to speak words of compassion and solidarity, aloud and in silent prayer, and seek actions that foster healing, peace and justice.
Battery candles will be available.