The French Shootings

Copy of e-mail sent to PM’s office and the Israel Embassy

From: Ibrahim, S.A.
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 8:33 AM
Subject: French Shootings

I was shocked to hear of the cold blooded murder of innocent children, their teacher and the soldiers in Toulouse. I am filled with deep sadness and extreme revulsion and my heart goes out the families of the victims and to the French Jewish community and the people of France and to parents everywhere . Sometimes in the face of such hate filled acts, I wonder if the work being done to fight hate has a chance of success at all. Yet, I know that we cannot give up, if only because all of us would rather go to our graves having tried than not even having attempted to make a difference. Organizations like the ADL and decent people of all nationalities and persuasions have to become even more dedicated to fight hate in all its manifestations. Equally, the international community has to focus on bringing those responsible for acts of hate and for the murder of innocent children to justice (if justice can ever be done in such cases).

I would like to offer my sympathies and condolences to the victims’ families but don’t know how to go about it and don’t know if I can come up with adequate words that can even slightly console the deep hurt. As a parent, as a human being and as a Muslim, who is disgusted at what some who profess my faith do in the distorted belief that they are protecting its honor, I can only say that I am sorry that parents like me had to experience the ultimate horror that any parent can ever experience. In not being able to come up with more words for the bereaved, I am reminded of Job who sat silently and the wisdom of the Torah, in the words of Rabbi Abin, who said: “At times like this the Torah takes refuge in silence.”

However, when it comes to the act itself, I have strong words of condemnation as I hope do the majority of the followers of my faith as well as all caring human beings around the world.

SA Ibrahim

Mr. S.A. Ibrahim is chief executive officer of a US-based global credit risk management company. He is a Muslim American businessman of Indian origin, who has made pilgrimage to Mecca twice in recent years. Mr. Ibrahim has become a friend of ICCI during the past two years, and is active in promoting interreligious dialogue. In June 2011, he was awarded ICCI’s first “Building Bridges and Bonds” Award for his commitment and dedication to the vision and mission of ICCI.

Kadi Mohammad Zibdeh Speaks at ICCI

Kadi Mohammad Zibdeh, the Kadi of Jaffa, and still the part-time kadi of Jerusalem,  gave a fascinating talk in our first series on meetings with non-Jewish religiouso leaders in Israel at the ICCI EDUCATION CENTER on Emek Refaim 43a, Jerusalem, as part of ICCI’s new “Encounters with Local Religious Leaders” series. As a person who grew up in Jaffa, he has been involved with the Muslim community in Jaffa for decades, not only as a teacher in the schools there and later a principal of one of the schools, but also as a civic leader involved in many NPOs (amutot) in the area for the betterment of Jaffa’s Arab citizens.

In 2001, he and 2 other men were appointed as new kadis (Muslim judges in family courts) in Israel. His appointment–and that of his colleagues–began a radical change whereby now all kadis in Israel have at least a university degree and most of them also have law degrees. Kadi Zibdeh is finishing a masters in law this year. This has led to a new generation of kadis in Israel who have earned the respect of their communities as well as of the judicial system in Israel.

Kadi Zibdeh explained carefully and succinctly how shariyah law works in Muslim family courts in Israel, in cooperation with the general laws of Israel. In the question period, he answered many questions very clearly, especially with regard to the rights of women in Muslim courts in Israel, which he explained as being very comprehensive and very considerate of the woman. It was quite clear that he has become an expert not only in Muslim family law but in Israeli family law as well.

The Jewish audience who came to hear Kadi Zibdeh was extremely grateful for his clear and concise answers to all questions, and for his humble yet authoritative personality.  It was  a rare opportunity indeed for Jews in Jerusalem to meet one of Israel’s outstanding Muslim leaders, a person who has rightfully earned the respect of his community and of the Jewish community as well.

I have had the personal privilege of knowing Kadi Zibdeh since 2003 when he participated for 5 years in our KEDEM (Voices for Religious Reconciliation) project, and became one of the leaders of this program. In addition, he and I traveled together to Canada and the U.S.A two years ago, where he did an excellent job of explaining to foreign audiences the nuances of living as Muslim–in the position of kadi (Judge)– in the state of Israel.  He is unquestionably one of the finest representatives of his community in Israel.

Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish
March 18, 2012

רמלה–גשרים להבנות בעיר רב תרבותית

מאת חנה בנדקובסקי, מנהלת תוכניות, מרכז ירושלים ליחסי יהודים ונוצרים

עיר החולות רמלה הוקמה על החול הרבה לפני שמשהו דיבר על תל אביב המזוהה כעיר שצמחה מהחולות. למעשה, פירוש שמה الرملة הוא “חול”בערבית רמל. בראשית המאה השמינית הקים אותה סאלימן אבן עבד אל מאלכ, אחיו של החליף הידוע כ”בנאי” הגדול של השושלת האומיית אל-וליד בונה את מסגד אל אקסה הראשון. האח, סאלימן, היה יותר ידוע כזללן. כך פתח את הרצאתו ד”ר שמעון גת, חוקר ומדריך ברמלה בכנס על העיר רמלה שכותרתו”רמלה – גשר על מים שקטים?! גשרים להבנות בעיר רב תרבותית.”

הכנס נערך בשיתוף פעולה בין מרכז ירושלים ליחסי יהודים ונוצרים ויד בן צבי. המרכז משתף פעולה עם יד בן צבי מיום היווסדו, ובעבר הופקו ארבעה קורסים שנתיים משותפים ותשעה כנסים. מרבית הכנסים הוקדשו לקהילות הנוצריות בארץ הקודש ואילו השנה הוקדשו הכנסים לערים המעורבות: נצרת, ועתה לרמלה. בכנס היו שותפים גם מוזיאון רמלה בהנהלת יגאל סיתרי והעירייה.

סקירה של מאות השנים הראשונות של העיר מאז הקמתה חושפת עיר צבעונית ועשירה שהוקמה לצד שכנתה הותיקה יותר, לוד. רמלה, שהיתה לבירת ג’ונד פלסטין, היתה גדולה משכנתה (כמחצית מרמלה היום), ומהמפוארות בארץ לטענת כותבים בני התקופה. בעיר חיו נוצרים, מוסלמים, יהודים ואף שומרונים, בעוד את לוד יתארו במאה התשיעית ככפר חרב. בגניזה הקהירית 70 טקסטים שונים המתייחסים לעיר רמלה, ומעידים על חיי מסחר עשירים וקהילה יהודית משמעותית. עדויות ברורות על כנסיות בעיר לצד ממצא ארכיאולוגי של מסגדים בני התקופה המוסלמית הקדומה מציגים תמונה מורכבת של עיר רב תרבותית. גם היום רמלה היא עיר רב דתית בה חיים זה לצד זה יהודים, קראים, נוצרים מוסלמים, וכל קבוצה הטרוגנית ומגוונת. 72,000 תושבי העיר כוללים 23.5% ערבים 72% יהודים ו4.5% אחרים.

מיכאיל פאנוס, בן הקהילה האנגליקנית ומנהל המתנ”ס הערבי בעיר, הצביע על התהליך המואץ של יציאת משפחות ערביות מהשכונות הערביות ג’ועריש וגן חק”ל ומהעיר העתיקה לעבר השכונות החדשות המזוהות כיהודיות, ועל השתלבות הערבים בעיר בתפקידי מפתח: במועצה, ברשויות האחרות ובועדות חשובות בעירייה. פאנוס, שהיה חבר המועצה הערבי הראשון, הסביר את תחושת השייכות והקשר לעיר דרך הייצוג הפוליטי.

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On Spiritual Activism

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale, New York, and the privilege of reading his book on SPIRITUAL ACTIVISM (A Jewish Guide to Leadership and Repairing the World, with a foreword by Alan M. Dershowitz, published by JEWISH LIGHTS, Woodstock, Vermont, 2008). Not only did I enjoy meeting him and his wife personally over Shabbat dinner at the home of my daughter and son-in-law, Rabbi Dahlia Kronish and Joshua Maudlin, in Riverdale, New York, but I benefited greatly from reading his book and being inspired by his concept of “spiritual activism”.

Rabbi Avi Weiss and I would not agree on very much politically, especially about issues in Christian-Jewish Relations and ways to resolve them or about Israeli policies in the occupation of the Territories or the West Bank or Judea and Samaria, however one chooses to refer to these places… Nevertheless, I have gained great respect for him as a person and as a genuine Jewish leader by reading his book and by spending time with him.

In his younger days, Rabbi Weiss was an extreme activist. He often went “over-the-top” to provoke American Jewish Leadership into action, especially on behalf of Soviet Jewry.

But then he suffered a few heart attacks and he has become softer and more appreciative of daily life. Moreover, in recent years, he has dedicated himself to building a truly progressive Modern Orthodox Yeshiva, Hovevei Torah, in Riverdale, which is a tremendous achievement in the world of Modern American Orthodoxy, which had moved so much to the political and religious right in recent decades.

How does Rabbi Weiss define “spiritual activism?”
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