Judith Sudilovsky writes for OSV News from Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM (OSV News) - Faith leaders and activists for coexistence from across Israel gathered in prayer in front of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem May 10th.
As dusk fell over the skies in Jerusalem's Old City, Sheik Ameed Adin chanted the prayer for peace of Abraham, the common patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, from the Ahmadiyya Islamic tradition.
"Our message is love for everyone, not hate," he told the group of some 100 people who had taken part in the march from the center of Jerusalem to the Old City. They said it was to show their leadership in a time of strife, in the footsteps of the interfaith civil rights march of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "We believe in this with all our heart and we have to sacrifice for this motto. It is not just an Ahmadiyya belief, it is in the Koran, in Islam, in the Bible, in all religions. We have to work for this together."
Muslim peace activist Ghadir Hani, from the northern Israeli city of Acco, and Rabbi Lana Zilberman Soloway from the Jerusalem area said their prayers -- recited in both Hebrew and Arabic -- took on a special urgency now, and that it was important to see Arabs and Jews marching together at these very tense times, with the missile attacks continuing even as they prayed.
"Today we are praying for all the children in Gaza and for all the children living along the Gaza border in Israel. We are one, and we are the ones bringing light to all the people of this land," Hani said. "This march is a very important statement."
Father Piotr Zelazko, who is Patriarchal Vicar for the Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel, and who participated in the prayer march, said his own community views their numerous interfaith activities with Muslims and Jews as an important undertaking.
"This makes us experience that we, human beings, can live together in peace and understanding despite the painful and unresolved political problems," he said. "The meeting in Jerusalem was addressed to the local community of Jerusalem as a message of hope that common life despite the differences is possible. There are many people who want peace, among them the religious leaders -- Jews, Christians and Muslims."
Over 30 organizations took part in the march, noted Rabbi Zilberman Soloway, and they will not give up their struggle for peace.
"We came, and we pray with our feet," she said.
"We are coming together not to erase our differences but to celebrate our differences and recognize our deep human connection to one another,” noted the Rev. Muriel Pearson of the St. Andrew’s Church in Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem Post published the following article:
Religious leaders march in the face of violence
Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders held an interfaith march and called for peace, partnership and justice.
While in Israel's south the violence continued to escalate, a diverse group of religious leaders showed their unity and called for an end to the violence in an interfaith march, held on Wednesday in the capital of Jerusalem.
Their message: "Israel has embarked on another round of futile violence - our mission: we must put aside hatred, and work together for a future of peace, partnership and justice."
Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders
The group included dozens of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders all promoting peace, equality and justice while marching in unison, starting from Zion square in downtown Jerusalem.
At the end of the march, participants gathered for a prayer and singing circle outside of Jaffa Gate at Jerusalem's Old City.
"Precisely in tense and difficult times like these, our march together - Jews, Muslims and Christians - in favor of peace and equality, reminds us that it can be different here," said CEO of Rabbinic Voice for Human Rights, Avi Dabush, one of the organizers. "We will not give in to attempts to divide our people, and we will not allow religion to be used as a tool for hatred, division and incitement. In the face of a fanatical leadership that leads to violence, we seek to draw inspiration for courageous religious leadership."
Dozens of peace and interfaith dialogue organizations participated in the march, including: Rabbis for Human Rights, Israeli Rabbis Network, the Reform Movement in Israel, the Scottish Church, Churches for Peace in the Middle East, the Ahmadiyya Islamic Community, the Interfaith Encounter Association, Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, Interfaith Initiative in the Negev, the Interfaith Group in the Galilee, Midreshet Hannaton, Masorti Movement, Spirit of the Galilee Leadership Group and the Swedish Theological Institute.
It also was held on the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel and inspired by the protest marches from Selma to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King, in which Heschel himself participated.
Rabbi Art Green and Sheikh Amir Mahmoud Sharif Odeh were among the prominent leaders in the march.