Three events that fostered interfaith bonding 

October 11, 2012 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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‘Jewish Jihadi’ statement calls for reconciliation between Jews and Muslims

New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority is seeing some new revenue from ads that promote peace and understanding. Sojourners, Rabbis for Human Rights and other organizations are placing counter-messages to the “Defeat Jihad” ad from Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative. And a Brooklynite who founded The Dialogue Project is credited with having pioneered this effort.

During the week of Yom Kippur, Judaism’s most solemn day of fasting, repentance and renewal, news broke about the vandalism of the controversial posters that the American Freedom Defense Initiative placed in the New York subway system, and about the MTA’s decision to clearly identify such posters as paid advertisements. As part of her own Yom Kippur reflection, Dialogue Project founder Marcia Kannry wrote, “I am a Jewish JIHADI,” emphasizing the need for respecting one’s neighbor even when wider society may revile that neighbor. She also referred back to an original definition of jihad as an inner personal struggle against evil, rather than to a widely-held connotation of that word as “holy war.”

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Her text reads, in part: “On Yom Kippur, I am fasting and reflecting. I am a Jewish Jihadi. Jihad is an Islamic process of reflection and struggle to bring thoughts, words and actions in alignment with prayer and best ethical practices. So too as Jews we practice sleichot (asking for forgiveness), and teshuva (return to good), offering compen- sation, asking for forgiveness from the humans whom we have offended.”

She updated her statement on her Facebook page, as well as on Twitter.

Then Kannry and fellow Dialoguers were inspired to post her “Jewish Jihadi” mes- sage in subway stations imme- diately adjacent to the Ameri- can Freedom Defense League’s “Defeat Jihad” posters. Although police im- mediately removed the poster at the Times Square station, the Posters were also put up at Grand Central Station, 49th St. and on stops along the “N” train line. And then, social media helped her message “go viral.”

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Other Brooklynites are spreading the message of choosing love over hate. And a meal attracts many to this message.

The “Abraham’s Children” Fall Picnic takes place this Sunday, October 14 in Prospect Park.

The Muslim Consultative Network, in collaboration with Iqra Masjid, St. Bartholomew’s Church, Holy Trinity Church, All Souls’ Bethlehem Church in Brooklyn, Mid-Manhattan Mosque and many other NYC religious institutions, are co- sponsoring this event.

The picnic begins at 12:30 For more information please contact: [email protected].

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Moreover, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, founder and rabbi of Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives, an 18-year-old progressive community in Brooklyn, and a diverse group of volunteers organized a Silent Peace Walk, possibly the largest and first of its kind in the United States. The Oc- tober 7 Silent Peace Walk, in Central Park, attracted 500 participants, even in rainy weather.

Amidst growing turmoil in the Middle East, the participants, representing all nationalities, faiths and backgrounds walked quietly in single-file, without flags, in an event of mutual respect and solidarity for peace in the Middle East and across the globe.

“Given an increasingly tense situation in the Middle East and so much attention focusing on what divides us, it’s seems fitting to have this peace walk in a city where people of all backgrounds live side by side in harmony,” said

Gal Romano, an Israeli organizing committee volunteer for the Peace Walk. “These silent walks demonstrate the reality of respect and co-existence. The Peace Walk is an expression and reminder of the goodwill among us, and walk- ing proof that peace is very much possible.”

New York City, with a population of over eight million, is one of the most densely populated and ethnically and reli- giously diverse cities in the world. Home to over 100 ethnic groups, including several mil- lion Muslims and Jews, the Peace Walk demonstrates that people of all faiths and origins can live peacefully side by side.

The event began with an opening ceremony at the New York Academy of Science, with opening speeches by community leaders including Jack Kornfield, one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America, and Dr. Stephen Fulder, Israeli founder of Middleway, a Palestinian-Israeli peace organization that has been organizing large silent peace walks in Israel and Palestine for more than 10 years. After the opening speeches, the Peace Walk circled Central Park, allowing participants to join in along the way. At the conclusion of the walk, experienced facilitators guided closing listening circles.

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