Rabbi Susan Abramson of Temple Shalom Emeth, Burlington and Imam Shakeel Rahman of the Islamic Center of Burlington have issued a joint statement of unity and the common need for peace and friendship, both between their two communities and with the Burlington community as a whole. The statement includes ways the schools can help their children during this difficult time. Below is the transcript of their statement, which can be viewed at https://youtu.be/6ueAI1xR40g
Rabbi S.A.: Shalom. I’m Rabbi Susan Abramson of Temple Shalom Emeth in Burlington. This is a conversation with Imam Shakeel Rahman, from the Islamic Center of Burlington.
Imam S.R.: We and our communities have been friends and neighbors for many years. We have enjoyed special meals and events and learning about each other’s faith traditions.
Rabbi S.A.: At this moment of tremendous suffering and loss, we felt that it was important to explain to those who are not part of our communities how we are feeling about the current situation in Israel and Gaza.
Imam S.R.: We would also like to speak to those who are part of our faith traditions about how we are commanded to treat each other during this very dark time.
Rabbi S.A.: The Jewish community is suffering, fearful and angry about the vicious attack of the Hamas terrorists. On October 7, more of my people were killed and tortured than any time since the Holocaust. At the same time, the State of Israel has been under constant bombardment with tens of thousands of missiles raining down on all parts of the country, causing virtually all of its citizens to constantly be seeking shelter.
Imam S.R.: The Talmud says, if you kill one person it is as if you have killed the entire world. And if you save one life it is as if you have saved the entire world. Similarly, the Quran says, “Whoever kills an innocent life is as if he has killed all of mankind.” We mourn the loss of every single innocent Palestinian whose life was lost because of this conflict. We grieve the suffering of all Palestinian people who are now in a desperate situation, whose homes have been lost, who have been forced to flee, who lack basic necessities, and who have been marginalized because of this conflict.
Rabbi S.A.: The children in our communities are aware of this situation and their parents’ reactions to a greater or lesser degree depending on their age and circumstances. It is hard for adults to grasp the complexities of what’s going on and the constantly changing scenario. What they do pick up on is anger and fear. They need to feel that they are part of a supportive environment, while at the same time not wanting to be singled out as being different.
Imam S.R.: To add to this misery, we have also experienced a sharp rise in Islamophobia and Antisemitism.
Rabbi S.A.: There have already been a couple of incidents where kids from our communities have unfortunately reached out to each other in hateful ways on social media. We want to spread the word that even though our two communities are embroiled in a horrible conflict in the Middle East, we here desperately need to model peace and friendship as our two faiths command.
Imam S.R.: We hope that all parents will continue to teach and emphasize the importance of respecting and loving our neighbor. The teenagers in our two communities will be getting together in a couple of weeks to create two posters of peace, one for the Islamic Center and one for the temple.
By Rabbi Jessica Lowenthal
I spend a significant amount of my life speaking about Israel to diverse, non-Jewish groups. After October 7, my work has felt even more urgent.
Lately, I find myself praying before these sessions – praying that they can hear my message. Jews have always been in Israel, have always desired to return to their homeland, and immigration has been happening for hundreds of years. That this is a complex and deeply painful issue and anyone who says it is simple is wrong.
At the same time, when we arrive at the late 1800s and the beginning of organized Zionism, I try my best to give the Palestinian perspective. We must understand - every empire that had ruled the area had been the same - send us your tax dollars and you can continue doing whatever you are doing. The same families had picked the same olive trees for generations. How would they know that Jewish migration was not another empire that would eventually leave? Why would they be aware of the long Jewish history of abuse in Europe, or how every Jew looks to Jerusalem as they pray? It should have been the responsibility of their leaders to understand the differences and prepare their community accordingly.
Instead, Palestinian leadership has consistently refused to acknowledge Jewish connection to the land, refused to negotiate a two-state solution, and continued to tell their people not to move forward - we will kill the Jews and you will go back to your homes. This is the same leadership that supported radical Islamic movements in neighboring countries, was ousted from Jordan for terrorism, and supported the civil war in Lebanon, demolishing the only Christian Arab country in the Middle East.
When Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, promptly massacring their opponents and creating a terrorist state, the world said this was fine. As Hamas funneled aid money to their terrorist operations, leaving their civilian population in continual danger, the world ignored it.
When Israel found an extensive tunnel operation, cement lined with electricity and a full armory, with the sole intent of invading Israel and killing Israelis, the world told Israel to use restraint. As Hamas has continually fired rocket after rocket toward the closest Israeli towns and communities - the very communities engaging in peace work with Gazans, who drove Gazan children to Israeli hospitals when they were sick, who protested Israeli government policies, the world was silent.
And now, when Hamas managed to take down Israel’s security and communication in order to rape, murder, and burn as many Israelis as possible, film it and gleefully celebrate their inhuman actions, the world calls on Israel for a cease fire.
I cannot ask Israel for a cease fire. After 15 years, Israel cannot have Hamas next to them. They cannot look at their citizens, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, and say we just need to die quietly and maybe they will leave us alone. No. Israel will engage in this war and try to wipe Hamas power from the strip.
But what happens after the war?
I pray that the international community takes a hard look in the mirror, especially all those who have piled into their streets calling for Palestinian rights. I hope they realize that they have been propping up Hamas, they have been fighting for the oppression of Palestinian people by their own leadership, they have been calling for the destruction of the only democracy, no matter how flawed, in the Middle East. I pray real pro-Palestinian movements can form, focusing on changing the narrative and accepting a Jewish presence in the land.
I will be curious to see how many people will care so deeply about Palestinians after the war. I, and so many in the Jewish community, do care, and am heartbroken and pained about the innocent Palestinian lives that have been lost.
After the war, I will still care, and I will continue to work with organizations promoting conversations between Palestinians and Israelis. I hope to see those who vehemently protest against Israel today in those communities, doing the long and challenging work of peace. We will see - after the war.
Rabbi Jessica Lowenthal is the Rabbi and Education Director at Temple Beth Shalom of Melrose.
By David Bedein
Tragically, the visuals the Israeli government has been using - dead and maimed bodies - are too easy for the PLO and Hamas to counter.
It was not hard to predict that the Arabs would now line up their mangled bodies from our air raids in response to mangled Jewish bodies.
What the Arabs cannot counter: Clear presentations of lethal indoctrination to murder Jews by the U.N.’s Palestinian Arab refugee agency UNRWA, as we at the Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research have documented for 36 years.
Our footage and studies of UNRWA schools show that UNRWA arms and brainwashes Arab children as young as nine years old with a curriculum of premeditated genocidal murder.
Tragically, numerous agencies that promote Israel’s cause have not shared this lethal incitement with journalists who cover the war.
I have spoken with dozens of reporters. Not one journalist has even glanced at the new UNRWA textbooks that glorify the murder of Jews. Not one reporter has seen our movies that depict Arab children trained to murder Jews in cold blood.
I and my colleagues who work to document lethal incitement to massacre Jews predicted the current war.
On Sept. 27, I brought four Arabic-fluent journalists with whom we have worked for 25 years to brief Israel intelligence on how UNRWA indoctrinates a new generation to murder Jews in a cold and systematic manner, devoid of emotion.
That is precisely what occurred on Oct. 7, when 3,000 highly trained and well-disciplined Palestinian Arab UNRWA terrorists traversed the porous Gaza fence and went on a killing spree, attacking anyone in their path - men, women, children and babies. Many of the UNRWA terrorists knew their victims by name.
This fact is worth reiterating: Testimonies showed that as the UNRWA attackers killed children, often in front of their parents, many of the killers knew each victim by name.
Our new movie will depict how UNRWA mesmerizes youngsters in Bethlehem and Jerusalem to engage in the kind of killing spree that the world witnessed on Oct. 7.
The world needs to know that UNRWA teaches murder.
David Bedein is director of the Nahum Bedein Center for Near East Policy Research, more info at https://israelbehindthenews. com/. This opinion article was published at JNS.org.
Some of the organizations raising money and supporting Israel:
CJP ISRAEL EMERGENCY FUND: https://ma.cjp.org 100% of your donation will go toward supporting victims of terror and addressing the unprecedented levels of trauma caused by these horrific attacks. American Friends of Magen Dayid Adom: https://afmda.org Israelis depend on Magen David Adom to save lives every day.
ZAKA: https://zaka.org.il Haredi-operated organization of unpaid volunteers, which handles the holy burial of Israel’s murdered and fallen.
Friends of the Israel Defense Forces: www.fidf.org Champion the courageous men and women of the IDF and care for their needs as they protect the State of Israel and her people.
United Hatzalah in Israel: https://israelrescue.org Committed to providing the fastest response to medical emergencies across Israel via 6,500 volunteers.
American Jewish Committee: Visit https://AJC.org/AttackOnIsrael . AJC’s Israel Emergency Campaign 100% of donations received will be distributed to frontline Israeli NGOs.
Keren Hayesod: https://www.kh-uia.org.il/soi-war
United Jewish Appeal: Brother’s Keeper Emergency Campaign.
KKL-Jewish National Fund: Support communities impacted by terror. https://my.jnf.org/gaza-emergency
The Association for Israel’s Soldiers: https://www.ufis.org.il/en
Jewish Family Service of Metrowest: Visit https://JFSMW.org
JFS has been resettling refugees since its inception and as Israelis seek shelter in our caring community, JFS is prepared to make referrals, assist with basic needs and housing, help with benefits and services, and provide other assistance as needed. for important resources.
Israeli American Council: Visit israeliamerican.org Wartime Community Resources.
Feed Israel: https://donate.feedisrael.org
ORT America: https://ortamerica.org/israel-emergency-response