Long before Sigmund Freud, readers of Breishit/Genesis understood that dreams convey meaning and messages . . . that the dreamer is the recipient of the message, not the source of the message and the interpreter of the message is guided by inspiration. Joseph declares this with clarity when he offers to interpet the dreams of his fellow prisoners: Joseph said to them, "Surely God can interpret! Tell me your dreams." (40:8)
I shared a dream recently . . . I can't claim credit for its content and I certainly felt guided by inspiration from God as I came to understand how to make my dream real.
On a Thursday in November, as the ink was barely dry on the Israel-Gaza cease fire, the three of us gathered with additional colleagues and together forged the statement below on the left. I had the privilege of following our joint statement with my own personal statement at a press conference on December 3rd. My statement is on the right:
Three Faiths: One Vision for Peace
“They shall sit, every person under their grapevine and under their fig tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has so declared.” (Micah 4:4)
As Jews, Christians and Muslims, we followed with tremendous apprehension and compassion, the conflict which recently rocked Israel and Gaza. We are grateful that, to date, the cease fire holds and pray that it will serve as the starting point for a more permanent peace.
The common denominator of care for every human soul which binds our faith communities together compels us, as spiritual leaders, to cry out against the fear, the disruption of daily lives, the trauma to young and old, the injury and death raining down on Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations alike.
As faith leaders, we reject the possibility that an act of terror can ever be the legitimate expression of Judaism, Christianity or Islam.
We offer the wisdom of each of our Abrahamic faiths in the hope that our sacred texts will promote an atmosphere of mutual respect, humility and peace among us:
Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world. (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
Take not life, which Allah (God) has made sacred. (Holy Quran, chapter 6 Verse 151)
Reverend Donald Anderson
Imam Farid Ansari
Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland, Warwick
Imam Abdul Hameed, Providence
Rabbi Amy Levin
Rabbi Peter Stein, Cranston
Mufti Ikram Ul Haq, North Smithfield
Statement: Rabbi Amy Levin
Thank you all for coming . . . I am Rabbi Amy Levin. I am the rabbi of Temple Torat Yisrael in East Greenwich and I have the privilege of serving as president of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island . . . and the further privilege of counting as colleagues the Jewish, Christian and Muslim clergy who join me today. Today’s joint statement is a milestone in an ongoing journey in which we have been clearing an unprecedented path of dialogue and spiritual exploration, a journey in which we are building bridges of understanding and appreciation among all our faith communities. These are extraordinary faith leaders.
From Rhode Island . . . the state with the deepest, most explicit roots in mutual respect for all faiths, rabbis, ministers and imams stand before you in a coalition of faith and peace.
Whether we evoke Adonay, God or Allah . . . whether we trace our ancestry back to Avraham, Abraham or Ibrahim . . . we are bound by our faith in the same God and our roots in the same family.
We look east from this place to a land of spiritual significance to all three of our faiths and pray for the peace, security and well-being of all those just living in the middle east . . . parents raising children, simple people going to work, shopping, going to school, visiting grandchildren . . . all those every-day acts we engage in here can be threatening to life and limb if you live near the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.
My colleagues and I, the members of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island, serving synagogues, educational institutions and communal institutions, representing Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox communities in Rhode Island and south-eastern Massachusetts are proud to stand with our Christian and Muslim colleagues and say to you: do not lay the blame for conflict at the doors of our faiths . . . our God, our prophets, the weight of our traditions compel us to seek peace. Do not confuse politics and territoriality and terror with the teachings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Many have done so in the past, but we are united in our conviction that our respective faiths teach us to come together in mutual respect and peace. May we soon see the day when our Jewish, Christian and Muslim co-religionists in the Middle East will be able to stand together as we do today.
May it be Your will, our God . . . Adonay . . . Allah . . . the God of our ancestors, to remove war and the shedding of blood from the world, may You inspire us to embed peace throughout the world and bring to fruition the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” May all who dwell on earth acknowledge and know that we did not come into this world for contention and or hate or jealousy or bloodshed. We have only come into this world in order to acknowledge You, who is eternally blessed. Therefore, we ask that You have mercy on us and that You establish through us the words of the Torah in Leviticus: “…and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid.” (26:5-6)