Project Rozana/Wheels of Hope Bring Together Three Faiths in One Common Good

For Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land, this May was supposed to be a time of hope. Instead, people of both faiths found themselves praying for peace while the armed forces of the Israeli Defense Force and Hamas/Palestine aimed rockets at targets, with civilians caught in the middle. Indeed, “sometimes, even in the darkest of moments, there are points of light that give hope for a brighter future.” Project Rozana is one of those flickering lights, for people of both groups.

Rozana is a nine-year-old Palestinian girl who was severely wounded in the ongoing conflict there. A group of young Palestinian men took her to a hospital in Israel, where she would get the lifesaving care she needed. Israeli doctors train their Palestinian counterparts in emergency medicine.

Project Rozana takes a three-pronged approach:

  • Train. They train Palestinian health professionals in Israeli hospitals, to return and build community health capacities, particularly identified gaps.
  • Transport. They transport Palestinian patients from checkpoints in Gaza and the West Bank to hospitals in Israel, with NGO partners.
  • Treat. They treat critically ill Palestinian children in Israeli hospitals when Palestinian Authority funding reaches its limit, as well as from centers of conflict.

In short, Project Rozana seeks to “build bridges to better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health.” Maestro Zubin Mehta explains:

Hadassah Road to Recovery Campaign from Hadassah Australia on Vimeo.

July 7: Night of Action

Faith leaders (Muslim, Jewish, and Christian), elected officials, and activists have pledged their commitment to Project Rozana’s mission and the Wheels of Hope campaign. This event will take place on Wednesday, July 7, 8:00 EDT, on Zoom. Please join this interfaith group! Register online here.

If you missed the event, it has been recorded and can now be streamed here.

Please Donate to Be Part of This Movement for Peace

Donate to Project Rozana’s Wheel of Hope Campaign:
USA Donors
Canadian Donors

Bridging Two Sides of a Troubled Divide

A bridge in Paterson, New Jersey, spans a turbulent river. Behind the bridge is a waterfall. On the right-hand side an American flag flies.

Philanthropists Ray and Vivian Scott Chew see their good work as a higher calling. They founded the Power 2 Inspire Foundation. These are dark times, but there is a ray of light, of hope. The Chews created Be the Light, a “call to action to unite the country in a climate of social, political and environmental unrest.” Why? “As our leaders and communities look for ways to highlight our common bonds instead of our personal differences, we have all been given the charge of looking for ways to “be the light.”

The Be the Light Project is producing an eight-song album, “celebrating the Jewish and Christian faiths coming together as one.” For the first track, released during the time of Pesach and Easter, Cantor Azi Schwartz and Israel Houghton, backed by an interfaith Gospel choir produced a masterful cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic, Bridge over Troubled Water.

It is worth noting that, back in December 2019, Cantor Azi Schwartz and Valerie Simpson sang the same song, again with a lively Gospel choir. Collaborating here, too, were Ray and Vivian Scott Chew.

Everyone, please be safe!

What Unites Us in Our Diversity Is Our Common Humanity

diversity humanity

A collection of dolls wear costumes from around of world, symbolizing diversity and our common humanity.

 

Our shared humanity is a them of which my Rabbi often speaks. At the end of Friday night service last week (via the magic of Zoom), she included a song a cantor they know composed recently. Steve Klaper part of an interfaith effort to spread the message of peace (Shalom, Salaam) among people of multiple faith traditions “to engage in creative service through music, art, education and outreach to the poor.”

“Ain’t no child to go hungry anymore / With so much that we do have here in this land that we all love / Ain’t no child to go hungry anymore.” Hazzan Klaper includes the full lyrics of his song with the video.

 

 

 

BringBackOurGirls 01 rFurthermore, in May, Steve reminded us in another video about the Nigerian girls of Chibok kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Finally, my Rabbi points out that Steve’s sentiments are reflected in the following lines by poet and artist Judy Chicago:

And then all that has divided us will merge,
And then compassion will be wedded to power,
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind,
And then both men and women will be gentle,
And both women and men will be strong,
And then no person will be subject to another’s will,
And then all who wish to be rich and free and varied,
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many,
And then all will share equally in the Earth’s abundance,
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old,
And then all will nourish the young,
And then all will cherish life’s creatures,
And then all will live in harmony with each other and the Earth,
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.

In the last blog post, girls around the world made a plea for equal treatment in education.

 

Suffering and Redemption – Abundance and Scarcity

Marc Chagall - White Crucifixion wood

An art book devoted to the work of Marc Chagall includes “White Crucifixion.” The original is at the Art Institute of Chicago. It can be seen on its website, at https://www.artic.edu/artworks/59426/white-crucifixion

 

Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion (1938) is an extraordinary work of art. It is the first of a series of pieces that show Christ as a Jewish martyr. In the background are vivid scenes of the destruction of the Jewish people. The painting beckons the attention of Jews and Christians alike. At this time of Good Friday, Easter, and Passover, suffering and redemption come to mind.

 

During a recent discussion, my fellow congregants and I were pondering abundance and scarcity, in a spiritual context, not in terms of material or monetary wealth, as these terms are commonly used.

 

Abundance does not imply a surfeit. Rather, abundance is gratitude for even what may seem small amounts. From that perspective, what is modest appears large. Abundance encompasses accepting within limits. Abundance involves faith, offering a sense of control through cooperation. It says, “I am safe.”

 

Scarcity, on the other hand, implies deprivation. There is no acceptance. Scarcity involves suffering, anger, fear, despair. Scarcity implies competition. It says, “I am not safe.”

 

We want neither an abundance of scarcity, nor a scarcity of abundance.

 

So, let’s get back to abundance. Abundance is an act of connecting, even in a time of “social distancing.” The Sunday, April 12, 2020, edition of the New York Times offers a whole section on helping ourselves through helping others, and vice versa. The first article, “The Science of Helping Out,” discusses how “having a strong sense of purpose protects us from stress in the short term and predicts long-term better health.” Another article in the supplement, “Don’t Need That $1,200 Stimulus Check?” offers a wide variety of ways in which one can put that money to excellent use to help society, which is what the check is meant to do. Donating blood and plasma to the American Red Cross is another option.

 

One of my favorite New York Times essayists, David Brooks, cited an article in Religion News Service, “Passover, Easter, Ramadan—and Interfaith America in Action.” As the piece points out, “Passover is about how a people who stay steadfast in hope can be liberated as a community from Mitzrayim, ‘a narrow place.’ Easter is the death of one paradigm and the rising of another. Ramadan commemorates jahiliyya, ‘the period of darkness,’ which is vanquished in the emerging light of the Quran.” A hospital caring for patients of Covid-19 is an act of cooperation among people of different faiths. There, people are “speaking freely of the sacred sources of our strength and solace and sharing these across lines of religious difference.” That speaks of abundance.

 

As in that remarkable painting by Chagall. Suffering and redemption transcend many faiths. It speaks to—and about—humanity.

Join the Interfaith Unity Vigil, Morris Area, New Jersey

Vigil

 

On Sunday, January 12, 2020, there will be an interfaith vigil at Temple Adath Shalom,
841 Mountain Way, Morris Plains, NJ 07950. The event was organized by the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, an organization creating a bond between members of the Muslim and Jewish faiths. They seek “to build bridges and fight hate, negative stereotyping and prejudice.”

 

Members of both faiths, and others, will gather to affirm one other in a show of strength and courage.

 

“Join us as we reflect on our traditions and teachings and create a welcoming space for all. The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Unity Vigil is an opportunity to affirm the harmony that we experience when we celebrate the dignity and diversity we see in one another. This vigil will be a call for prayer and readings to offer courage and hope to one another.”

 

For more information, please contact Rabbi Debra Smith of Or Ha Lev, Jewish Renewal Congregation, at 908-303-8374