September 2014 – Interfaith Peace Journey to Faradis, Haifa and Zichron:
40 Palestinians and 15 Israeli Jews travel together from Jerusalem to Fureidis, where other Israeli participants joined our group. At Modiin checkpoint, soldiers stopped the bus in suspicion, and while checking all our ID’s were pleasantly surprised that Jews and Arabs would be making such a journey together at this time… In Faradis Ibtisam Mahamid welcomed the group to her center “The Tent of Hagar and Sarah“ where 15 Israeli Jews joined. As usual, for part of the gathering we engaged in study and discussion of Islamic and Jewish scritures, our theme was teshuva / repentance. The journey also visited Holy Jewish, Christian and Muslim sites. After a kosher hummus lunch and a guided tour of landmarks demonstrating the founding of the modern Israli town Zichron Yaakov, the group traveled to Haifa where wem et Bahai leaders. Later, at Elijah´s Cave, the security officer of the cave said that in 27 years he had never seen such a group come to pray together. At this point Radio Israel broadcasted a report on our event.
October 2014 – Interfaith journey to Acco:
On a day amidst ongoing tensions in Jerusalem, 80 Jews and Arabs, joined by journalists and camera crew, journeyed from Jerusalem and the Galilee to Acco. The Abrahamic Reunion took the bold step of welcoming two “controversial“ religious leaders to join, opening the circle and inviting them to shift from fear of “the other“ to a path of engagement and peacebuilding. Joining from Hebron was Sheikh Khaled Ahmad, one of the founders of the Hizbet ut-Tahrir, the pan-Islamic party, and from Tsfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu. Acco-Video
November 2014 –Abrahamic Reunion Declaration For Religions Tolerance Signed at Shefar`am:
60 Jews, Christians and Muslims journeyed to the town of Shfar´am. In the days after the Har Nof massacre and the morning after the arson attack on the Hand to Hand school in Jerusalem, this journey of solidarity and brotherhood was a powerful response. Elias Jabbour, Director of the House of Hope and co-founder of the Abrahamic Reunion welcomed the group and spoke about the town as a model of interreligious harmony for centuries. As always, Holy places of the four main faiths in the Holy Land were visited. When coming to the synagogue whose exterior was recently firebombed in an act of religious extremism, local Muslim, Christian and Druze teenagers stepped forward immediately to help fix the damage and renovate the synagoge. At the House of Hope, after sharing a meal, a ceremony is held where each religious leader present signed a group statement which is read aloud in English, Hebrew and Arabic. The Abrahamic Reunion Declaration
December 2014 – Mt. Grizim / Har Bracha: Multifaith Hanukah celebration in the West Bank:
120 people in three buses, Israelis and Palestinians, were welcomed by the Samaritan community on the Biblical “Mountain of Blessings“. The governor of Nablus, Akram Rajoub, and the high priest of the Samaritans both came to address the group with a message of hope and unity. While the men of the group broke up into dialogue circles, the Jewish and Muslim women met with Nawal to learn about the customs of the Samaritan women. Later, in a Hanukah lighting ceremony, Sheikh Ghassan Manasra spoke onthe concept of light, “Nur“ in Islam, & Catholic Sister Lucia Svieta about the same concept in the New Testament and the Christmas holiday.Baruch Erdstein taught about the Hannukah miracle and Yerachmiel Ziegler sung the Hanukah blessings. Christian, Druze, Muslim and Jews together are blessed the bread. Ibtisam Mahameed and Rodef Shalom Eliyahu McLean declared “may the blessings of peace from the Mt. Of Blessings, spread from this point to all over the Land of the Prophets“. This unique gathering was featured in Yediot Acharonot newspaper, the largest print paper in Israel and in Haaretz. “Yediot Acharonot”
February 2015 – Peace Journey for Tu Bishvat:
During the “World Interfaith Harmony Week“ 90 people from all over the country, Jews, Muslim, Christian and Druze journeyed together. At the Ma´ale Gilboa Yeshiva, Rabbi Mordechai Zeller, with Sheikh Ghassan Manasra translating, led the group in a TuBishvat Seder, a ritual for the new year of the trees. “Though we all praise our “father in heaven“, TuBishvat reminds us of our need to honor the land, which is like our mother. Instead of fighting over who this land belongs to, our responsibility is to the land, to heal the earth“ said Rabbi Mordechai. Probst Wolfgang Schmidt, the provost of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem said that this holiday reminds him of the trials, sufferings in the body of Jesus, how they are tranformed to lessons for spiritual growth. “We of the monotheistic faiths, we all connect to this sacred time … continue this important work“. Video TuBishvat
The Abrahamic Reunion brought 85 people from the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel together to experience a Bedouin Mosque, Bedouin Farm (the farmer is supportive of peace between Palestine and Israel as his farm is sometimes a recipient of missiles from Gaza), and finally a visit to the ocean, which some Palestinians had never visted. During the cross-border prayer, Gazans on the telephone spoke about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and their hopes for peace in the region, even in the aftermath of last summer´s war. People from Gaza pray in unison with the AR gathering, which is on a hill looking over into Gaza. It happened that at the same time the Israeli Military was conducting exercises along the border. On being approached by the AR, the military was pleasantly surprised, and many echoed the AR’s prayers for peace for the people of Gaza and Israel and the region, for the healing of Abraham´ s family. This was covered by Arab News Channel 33.
Almost 120 Israelis and Palestinians – Muslims, Jews, Christians and Druze – travelled from across the West Bank and Israel to visit St. Anthony´s school where Muslim, Christian, and Druze children are schooled together and taught interreligious and intercultural peacemaking. Later, the Chief Rabbi of Tsfat Shmuel Eliyahu along with three other Rabbis (ranging from Zionist to Ultra-Orthodox Non-Zionist) welcomed the group to the Holy Jewish city of Tsfat, where a powerful interfaith prayer circle was held under a willow tree right in the heart of the Old City. At the tomb of Prophet Jethro (Nabi Shuaib) the group met and prayed with Druze Head Sheikhs. Nabi Shuaib is one of the most sacred sites to the Druze religion, which considers Jethro their founding Prophet. A lot of people on this journey were inspired not only by the encounter of diversity of spiritual expression but also by the harmony and interfaith cooperation they was part of at this day. A member of the Abrahamic Reunion was asked what the biggest chalenge to peacemaking is. “So I would say the biggest challenge is not necessarily the buildup on any weapons or any borders, but the sea of cynicism that peace is not possible. There are all these reasons, rational reasons, why peace could not be possible, but our work is to lift up people beyond these reasons and to show them that peace is possible, that harmony is possible, and to experience it on our journeys.“
This event – literally an organized hug of the Old City Walls in central Jerusalem by several hundred people, an annual peaceful event, always characterized as compassionate and full of understanding, was overshadowed this year by violent riots. Palestinian coordinators of the Abrahamic Reunion were seriously injured and had to be treated in hospitals.
Eliyahu McLean wrote: “Thanks to all those who joined us at the ninth Jerusalem Hug. Though 250 joined us from Tulkarem, Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron, many were chased away as we gathered on the lawn between Damascus Gate and New Gate, assaulted by “anti-normalization“ thugs. This coming just days after some of my religious Jewish brethren at the Jeruslem Day celebrations around the Old City, acted like idiots shouting “death to the Arabs“ at Damascus Gate… Deep appreciation for the courage of our brothers and sisters from the West Bank who refused to be intimidated, and put their bodies on the line for the sake of peace, harmony and justice. By joining the Jerusalem Hug event, Palestinians were accused by the East Jerusalem activists of being “normalizers“ helping Israelis feel good about themselves by meeting with “nice Arabs“ while the occupation continues. In anything, we are the true “anti-normalization activists“. If “normal“ is to live in fear, separation, to forget we are all part of the same human family, then we are “anti-normalization“. … Breaking down the walls of fear in our minds and between our people, this is what will tear down the physical cement barriers…
We came together to show our shared love of Jerusalem, ירושלים, al-Quds al-Sharif. We wont be stopped by the forces of fear on any side. Some of our partners even ended up in the hospital… but all reports in, our Palestinian, Israeli and international friends refuse to back down, and are more committed than ever to this work, to continue the holy hutzpah, jihad for love between the Children of Abraham.“
June 2015 – Abrahamic Reunion Leadership Conference and Visioning Interfaith Activism In The Holy Land Conference at Tantur Ecumenical Institute:
Headed by one of their co-founders, David Less, the Abrahamic Reunion gathered for a retreat and group visioning process. Founding members, local coordinators and international supporters like representatives of Rising Tide International and the Abrahamic Reunion USA as well as the German Global Hope Fund were in attendance. As always, people met each other heart to heart, eating, praying, and meditating together, sharing vision, suffering, successes and failures with each other while evaluating the peacework of the Abrahamic Reunion of the last 12 months and making plans for the future.
Organized by the Abrahamic Reunion and in cooperation with the ICCI, the Interreligious Coordinating Council of Israel, the two days finished with the first “Visioning Interfaith Activism in the Holy Land Conference“ including a Women´s Panel on the “Contribution of Women to Building Harmony Among the Religions“. Eighty interfaith activists from eight different peace organizations from Israel and Palestine attended, discussed successful practices, and formed vital partnerships for future activities to counteract fear, suspicion and violence with education, trust-building, and meaningful contact with people of other religions.
The Abrahamic Reunion multi-faith fast-breaking event on July 5ths was a huge success. Joining were over 160 Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims who gathered in the peaceful gardens of the Tantur Ecumenical Institute. The feast opened with teachings and blessings from different religious leaders and Abrahamic Reunion members explaining the interfaith initiatives of the Abrahamic Reunion. The opening circle ended as a team of young Jewish, Christian and Muslim volunteers distributed the hot food delivered from Pasha kosher restaurant in Talpiot to the many tables set up under the trees and stars. The Muslims waited patiently to honor the Jews by waiting with them to break the fast 20 minutes later – it was a Jewish fast day (17th of Tammuz) and a Muslim one. Daniel Aqleh, Evangelical pastor from Bethlehem, Sheikh Ghassan Manasra and Eliyahu McLean offered blessings from their traditions at 8:16 p.m. and all broke fast together. Well into the night, people shared food, stories, made new friends…an experience of mutual respect, sharing and unity. All leave that evening expressing appreciation for the privilege of being a part of such a gathering, many asking for more. Video: breaking the fast 2015
August 2015 – Interfaith solidarity visit to the monastery and church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha:
In an arson attack there on June 18th, part of the monastery was torched by Jewish extremists in a hate crime. This is an important Holy place for Christianity where according to tradition, Jesus fed a crowd of 5000 with just two fish and five loaves of bread. 35 people from Israel and Palestine, Jews, Christians, Muslim and Druze showed their solidarity with the Benedictine monks. The German Benedictine Father Mathias Karl warmly welcomed the group. He shared the history of the building, about the modern wood and stone structure built in the 80´s on top of the original Byzantine era mosaic floors and had recently been excavated, and the story of the miracle of multiplication that happened there. After listening to words and teachings of the Benedictines, Rabbis, and Abrahamic Reunion members, the group joined hands and held them high in two circles, in a powerful healing prayer of unity and solidarity with their Benedictine friends. Rev. Daniel Aqleh from Bethlehem, Sheikh Ghassan Manasra and Eliyahu McLean each offer prayers for healing and peace. In a powerful moment Rabbi Mordechai Zeller, after sharing that the Jews blow the shofar during this Hebrew month, Elul, to awaken the soul, blew his shofar in the burned room. Elana Rozenman writes: “The shofar blasts pierced the burnt surroundings of the church with a clarion call for peace among ourselves and our religions.“
September 2015 – International Day of Peace in Jerusalem:
On September 21st, the Abrahamic Reunion hosted a study session and multi-faith walk in honor of the International Day of Peace, and fort he the Holy days of Yom Kippur and Id al-Adha. Joining were 40 Israelis, Palestinians and Internationals. The group gathered in a West Jerusalem home for teachings by Rabbi Daniel Landes of the Pardes Institute, Sheikh Jamal al-Din from Beit Haninah and Imam Khalil Albaz of Tel Sheva about the meaning of
Yom Kippur, Id al-Adha and the story of Abraham and the near sacrifice of Ishmael / Isaac in Islam and Judaism. Women leaders Elana Rozenman, Sana Albaz and Maya led the group on a multi-faith meditation walk along the Tayelet–Haas Promenade, overlooking the Old City and East Jerusalem. The day ended with a circle with chants and prayers by religious leaders, Jewish, Muslim and Christian, both men and women. A Lutheran from the Redeemer Church led a prayer in German. Pesach Stadlin closed with a powerful shofar trumpetting, carrying the groups intentions out into the city… Given the recent violence in Jerusalem, this was a deeply meaningful time to come together and show a different path of Jewish-Muslim and multi-faith harmony.
12 members of the Abrahamic Reunion from Israel and Palestine travelled together to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City / USA and led three standing-room-only workshops. Hundreds of people were inspired by the peaceworkers from the Holy Land. Every event was overflowing with people. Although the daily news speaks about stabbing attacks and terror in Israel and Palestine, the members of the Abrahamic Reunion, by the living presentation of their collective and individual peacework, showed hopeful alternatives for a peaceful coexistence across borders, ethnics, cultures and religions.
The Abrahamic Reunion was asked by a Native American community to host this day in the Holy Land as part of a global series of ceremonies to heal places of historical trauma. Israelis and Palestinians journeyed together to the Druze city of Daliat il-Carmel and visit the “Garden of the Mothers“ which was planted by the Women´s Interfaith Network TRUST WIN in honor of the Christians, Druze, Jews and Muslims killed in the Carmel mountains forest fire. Later, in the Arab village of Faradis, Ibtisam Mahameed shared the history of the 1948 massacre at Tantura village, on what is now Hof Dor / Dor beach, where well over 100 young men from the village were killed by Jewish forces in the 1948 independence war (also called in the Palestinian narrative the Nakba). This was her grandmother’s village. The group continued to the Park Hotel in Netanya, infamous site of the 2002 Pesach Massacre suicide bombing, where a Hamas affiliated bomber walked past security and blew himself up, killing 30 and injuring 140. In each places the group prayed together for peace and justice, for an end to all this violence, and for peace upon the dead. The day was closed with a universal prayer of healing for all victims of violence, and the healing of these historial traumas.
February 2016 – “The Abrahamic Pulse“ synchronized global prayer for the peace of Syria:
On February 1st, the Abrahamic Reunion joined by peace musician James Twyman to host the “Great Abrahamic Pulse“, a global synchronized meditation prayer for the peace of Syria. About 100 people made this multi-faith journey to the Golan Heights, overlooking Syria, made up of Israelis, Palestinians, and an international group of spiritual peace seekers. This event also honoured World Interfaith Harmony Week. Overlooking the Israeli-Syria security fence on the slopes of Mount Hermon, Muslims, Christians and Jews stood on the “shouting hill“ where the Druze gather to speak to relatives on the other side of the border. The group contunued south to the view point overlooking Quneitra, an abandoned town on the Israel-Syria border. While Quneitra is held by the Syrian army, nearby villages are held by rebel groups, including ISIS. Standing there, the group heard the sounds of battles raging in Syria, not far from where they stand. Later, as they approached Mount Bental, they noticed a full rainbow around the sun. Arriving at the summit, a “peace pole“ with “May Peace Prevail on Earth“ written in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Japanese was planted with Rabbis, Sheikhs, Reverends, women and men as well as members of the Abrahamic Reunion sharing prayers.
Sheikh Abdel Salaam Manasra closed by saying, “As we stand here our hearts cry, but our hope is great, our prayers will fill the world… we say enough to the violence, enough to the killing, yes to love, yes to peace. We will always stand against injustice, peace will prevail.“ At 5pm Israel time, the global synchronized silent peace meditation and prayer started – and for those 15 minutes the sounds of the battles below ceased entirely! Just at the end of the meditation howls from a nearby pack of wolves broke the silence. Over one million people were registered online saying they would pray during the globally synchronized prayer – and 10 days later, the cessation of hostilities within Syria was signed in Europe.
The group gathered for a closing circle, carrying the prayers of people all over the globe who had just joined them, and sending hope from the Holy Land, to Syria and the world.
This event received widespread media coverage, including reports in Breaking Israel News and Al-Hurra Arabic TV network. Global networks are joined included the URI – United Religions Initiative and Unify.org.
For more information about the Abrahamic Reunion’s Events, and for complete reports, videos, photos, blog posts, and more, visit AbrahamicReunion.org.
The Abrahamic Reunion is a completely donor funded network of peacemakers from the four Abrahamic Faiths in the Holy land – Jewish, Christiam, Muslim, and Druze – men and women, who are leaders in their own communities, and join together to bring hundreds of people together for peace.