By Rabbi Ron Kronisch
“Last week, my wife and I attended the annual iftar (Muslim break-the-fast) dinner at the residence of the American Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Dan Shapiro, in Herzliya Pituach, north of Tel Aviv, with Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious, cultural and educational leaders and activists involved in Arab-Jewish coexistence programs and peace education from all over Israel. It was a beautiful evening of friendship and fellowship in the wonderful garden of the ambassador’s residence, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. One could almost imagine that we could live in peace in the Middle East! Ambassador Shapiro greeted all the participants warmly and reminded us of the importance of fasting in our religious traditions when he said.
It gives us an opportunity to ask for forgiveness and to seek understanding. It gives us the opportunity to step into the shoes of those less fortunate than us, and, drawing inspiration from that experience, to practice acts of charity and goodwill.
Ramadan is an occasion for all of this and more for Muslims in Israel and throughout the world. What is particularly amazing is that not only are Muslims free to do this in the Jewish state of Israel, but they also are engaged in many programs of coexistence with their fellow Jewish citizens in Israel.
One such program is a new program that I began a few months ago with my Muslim counterpart, Kadi Iyad Zahalka, the Muslim judge of the Shariya Court of the State of Israel ( I have written about him previously on this blog). We have brought together a group of Jewish and Muslim religious, cultural, educational, academic and community leaders to learn together, to discuss issues of common concern and to take action together. The name of our new group is Kodesh, a Hebrew acronym, which means “Holy”, and which stands for “Religious Voices for Peace”. We will be bringing a method of dialogue and a message of peaceful coexistence to our communities and to Israeli society in the months and years ahead.”