These conversations are for people who live, work, worship, shop or study in Palo Alto.
These intentional conversations are aimed at growing Palo Alto into a community characterized by belonging, vested in diversity, inclusion and equity, and committed to putting words into actions. We will be discussing race and belonging with honesty, transparency and vulnerability.
The goal is to host 100 conversations between May 25 and Juneteenth, 2021.
Click here for more information.
Once again, our hearts break at the eruption of violence afflicting Israel/Palestine and Gaza. At the heart of the conflict is Jerusalem, a city sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Injustice on the level of home confiscation and restriction of assembly and worship for Palestinians have given rise to the latest round of violence, with missiles killing large numbers in Gaza, killing smaller numbers in Israel but nonetheless spreading terror and trauma. Extremist elements among Jewish and Arab Israelis are engaging in rioting and personal combat that could tragically set back the goal of shared society for a very long time.
As people of faith, we know that violence begets more violence and hatred begets more hatred. We pray that the power of love and justice will somehow prevail over the precious Holy Land, healing the long-standing wounds of injustice, hatred, and war.
We call for an immediate halt to hostilities—on the part of individuals, nationalistic groups, and governments. More combat will only engender more trauma and hatred in populations long battered by war and injustice.
Our prayers are with all those in the region, and all of our neighbors, family, and friends who are deeply connected to Israel and Palestine. May God’s peace and justice soon conquer the forces of violence and oppression.
For fuller statements from a variety of multifaith organizations and partners, click "read more" below.
Coming from many faith traditions, Multifaith Voices of Peace & Justice’s Steering Committee offers this Statement of Solidarity and Call to Action.
Our neighbors who are Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) are often targets of racist taunts and violence. While these expressions of hate are not new – California has a long history of anti-Asian racism – over the last year these attacks have increased in frequency, vitriol, and violence.
For the Christians among us, there is particular need to acknowledge that the murders in the Atlanta area on March 16, 2021 emerged from a distortion of Christian theology which promotes unhealthy sexuality, white supremacy, misogyny, and stereotypes of Asian women.
As people of diverse religious and spiritual traditions, we unite in prayer for the families of the eight people who were murdered, including six Asian women. And we unite in prayer for the Asian American victims of hate crimes in our own area, those whose pain and trauma is too often ignored or cast aside.
Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice calls on all people of faith to confront the roots of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia in our midst, and within ourselves, so that we might find new ways to work together to build Beloved Community.
An important TRAINING for you to consider:
You can attend a free, one-hour on-line Bystander Intervention to Stop Anti-Asian/American and Xenophobic Harassment Workshop presented by Hollaback! and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ). Registration required. Workshops scheduled for several different times throughout April.
AND learn more about SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) in the South Bay and beyond visiting the SURJ at Sacred Heart website.
The following statement was coauthored by two members of MVPJ's steering committee in response to the racist zoom bombing of Christian congregations during their Holy Week.
There is a sickness infecting our nation, visible in the news every day, but which some of us don't personally encounter in our everyday lives. That changed last week when a group of peninsula progressive Christian congregations were attacked by "zoom bombers" spewing racist hateful messages and streaming obscene images, disrupting worship for hundreds of people. This hate and othering is all too familiar to people of color, including Asian-American-Pacific-Islanders (AAPI) and others in BIPOC communities, including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, as well as Jews. It made its way into the living rooms and sanctuaries of Christians during their Holy Week in April, specifically aimed at those followers of Jesus who happen to be among the most welcoming of diversity, fighters for social justice, and protectors of the environment. As a grassroots organization made up of many people of all faiths working for a more peaceful, sustainable, and inclusive world, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice raises its voice of support for these congregations and calls on the rest of the community to stand up for them and each other.
Hosted by Congregation Etz Chayim, our March 11 Peaceful Presence included wonderful music and prayers as well as contributions from Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith leaders. The theme was Compassion and Justice.
Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky from Congregation Etz Chayim focused on "March" and turned our attention to the March 25, 1965 "March on Montgomery." He read from a letter by Rabbi Jacob Pressman, a colleague of his who, along with other rabbis across the nation, had responded to Dr. King's call and joined the march. Pressman's impressions are personal, vivid and moving. Click here to download the full text. Some excerpts are particularly relevant for us today:
"At one point we reached a hilltop in the road, and I was able to look back behind me at a solid column of chanting humanity at least a half-mile long. Then I looked down the hill in front of us and again I saw a half-mile of solid humanity, united from everywhere by a common concern for other people, for human decency. I must confess as I stood on that hilltop and saw myself and felt myself surrounded by these decent, caring persons, I burst into tears and never really got my eyes dry for hours afterward. They weren’t tears of sorrow. They weren’t tears of hatred or frustration, but they were tears of pride in the goodness of which man is capable when he tries. ...
Rev. Dr. Eileen Altman from First Congregational Church UCC in Palo Alto and the MVPJ Steering Committee read from Anne Lamott's book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy. "Mercy, grace, forgiveness and compassion are synonyms, and the approaches we might consider taking when facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves - our arrogance, greed, poverty, disease, prejudice. It includes everything out there that just makes us sick and makes us want to turn away, the idea of accepting life as it presents itself and doing goodness anyway. ...
Our Muslim contribution came from Fattin Wekselman. She shared that an acquaintance of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) named Usamah ibn Sharik narrated:
Two highlights from our February 11 Peaceful Presence, hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, were a moving meditation and an inspiring story!
Rev. Yushi Mukojima from the Mountain View Buddhist Temple led our meditation, which included these words:
There is a saying in Buddhism: Let us cease from wrath and refrain from angry looks. Nor let us be resentful when others differ from us. For all men have hearts, and each heart has its own leanings. Their right is our wrong, and our right is their wrong. We are not unquestionably sages, nor are they unquestionably fools. Both of us are simply ordinary men.
Therefore, our spirit of justice should always be based on wisdom, compassion, and loving kindness, without anger and hatred. Even if we are upset with or even hate another person, we should not dwell on our differences, but just try to let them go. It may be very hard, but do not give into hatred. Hatred can never create anything constructive.
To read the full meditation scroll down or click "Read More" below.
We were also inspired with a reading of the story Kamala and Maya's Big Idea. The book is written by Meena Harris, and illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez. Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi, long time participants with Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice and owners of the independent bookstore Reach and Teach, read the story to us. To purchase the book visit the Reach and Teach website.
On January 11th 2021, MVPJ hosted a Peaceful Presence.
Click here and use the passcode X9ZwZ@^d
Let Us Heal
It is hard to unsee after having seen
Families being separated and shaken
Hearing their calls for help and screams
They were left with no choice but to give in
I remember the day that led to today
With a vicious stroke of a powerful pen
That is what led to our nation's heartbreak
They were left with no choice but to give in
MLK's dream had long been shattered
The departed souls leaving behind sadness
I walked with hundreds at a rally and cried
They were left with no choice but to give in
As we stand here today, closing one door
Let us start this new year hand in hand
On May 26, 2020, with the encouragement of Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice working with Menlo Park peace activist Judy Adams, Cecelia Taylor, the mayor of Menlo Park, signed a proclamation supporting a call for the federal government to take five specific steps to reduce the risk of nuclear war.
Then, on November 18, 2020, through the efforts of MVPJ and two Atherton peace advocates (Les DeWitt and former Mayor Malcolm Dudley), Atherton joined Menlo Park in supporting the call.
Entitled "Back from the Brink," this call was created by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Physicians for Social Responsibility, and has been endorsed by 250 organizations including the California State Legislature. Menlo Park and Atherton joined Los Angeles and seven other California cities to become the seventh and tenth California cities, respectively, to endorse 'The Call.'
Click here to download a PDF of the Op-Ed (July 31, 2020 in The Almanac) "Stepping Back from the Brink: Steps to reduce the risk of nuclear war" written by Richard Duda (of MVPJ) and Judy Adams about the call and Menlo Park action.
Click here to download a PDF of the Menlo Park Proclamation and the Atherton Proclamation.
If you are a resident of a city that has not signed the Back from the Brink call and would like to work with MVPJ on the best way to approach your city council, please contact us at email@example.com.
Monthly Multifaith Prayers for Peace
In the midst of difficult times, Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice will host “Peaceful Presence,” 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.