Greetings from Rabbi Gilad Kariv
By Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director of the IMPJ
Earlier this month, over a million Israeli Muslim citizens celebrated Eid el-Fitr – the holiday that ends the month-long Fast of Ramadan. At the same time, we began our month of mercy and forgiveness, and with it, the many preparations prior to the New Year.
In less than one month’s time, on the first days of the New Year, we will read the story of the birth of Isaac and his complicated relationship with his brother Ishmael. Scholars who have dealt with the inherent difficulties of this story, have posited that after the death of Sarah, Isaac went looking for Hagar in order to return her to his father, together with her son, Ishmael. The basis for this is written in the Torah where it describes how together Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham – “the father of many nations.”
The converging of this year’s conclusion of Ramadan with the onset of the month of Elul is an opportunity to include the status of the relationship between the Jewish and Muslim populations in Israel in our public scrutiny efforts. The past few years have not brought with them the blessing of improving this relationship, as far too often the sources of both Judaism and Islam were used as weapons by those seeking to instill prejudice, inspire hatred and build walls between the two communities. Precisely for this reason there is an added value to our activities as a movement and our ability to speak out together in a single Jewish voice and to find within the partnership between Jews and Arabs. More importantly, we must translate that voice into deeds of understanding, shared learning and social action on behalf of tolerance within Israel’s society.
I would like to invite you to read the article I wrote on the place of the Arabic language in Israel’s public sphere. Furthermore, you are invited to learn about some of our activities taking place which focus on this important issue through Keren B’Kavod and other branches of the IMPJ. The promotion of interfaith dialogue in Israel is an important task of the reform and progressive movement and we wish to concentrate on it during the coming year, in the hope that, step by step, we will realize the blessing of our common ancestor: “and you will be a blessing … and all peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12, 2-3)
As always, I welcome your reactions and ideas on our Facebook page.
Wishing you a blessed and good month,
Rabbi Gilad Kariv
This message was originally published in the latest edition of the IMPJ newsletter. We will be sharing more from the IMPJ (including the pieces Rabbi Kariv mentions above) later this week.