Just as this newsletter was about to go out we received word that Hamas had launched an attack on Israel, initiating the kind of violence that made it necessary for us to cancel our “What Makes This Land Holy?” tour.
While we are heartbroken to see more violence and devastation unfold, we feel it is more important than ever to lift up the holiness that persists even now through the everyday insistence on human rights, civil discourse, and peaceful coexistence.
In the coming days we plan to share the experiences and insights of people who live in the Holy Land and strive every day to realize its promise. As you read this newsletter, remember that those who live there need our support and advocacy more than ever. Their work of repair and renewal is an inspiration and reminder that we have our own work to do here, in the country we call home.
by Rabbi Nancy Kasten
In his book Israel: An Echo of Eternity, Jewish theologian and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote,
“There are moments in history which are unique, moments which have tied the heart of our people to Jerusalem forever. These moments and the city of Jerusalem radiate the light of the spirit throughout the world. The light of the spirit is not a thing of space, imprisoned in a particular place. Yet for the spirit of Jerusalem to be everywhere, Jerusalem must first be somewhere.”
Faith Commons will be seeking out the spirit of Jerusalem in the Holy Land and sharing that spirit as we experience our “What Makes This Land Holy?” tour of Israel and Palestine this month. The name “Jerusalem” comes from the Hebrew meaning City of Shalom, a word often translated as “peace,” but also meaning “wholeness.” The Arabic name for Jerusalem is al-Quds, the Holy.
Whole and holy, holy and whole; the two are inseparable in a tiny patch of geography that plays different but central roles in the hearts and minds of Jews, Christians and Muslims, indigenous populations, immigrants and descendants of immigrants, visitors and pilgrims.
At a time when nothing is sacred and sowing conflict seems profitable, identifying and raising up the whole and holy is an act of sustenance and resistance. As we travel to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Bethlehem and the Galilee, Jericho and Ramallah, our group will listen to the voices and witness the work of Israelis and Palestinians who are repairing what is broken and sowing seeds of hope. We will hear their stories and understand our own in a new light. We will hear about their struggles and realize how familiar they sound.
We hope that you will follow along online as we embark on this pilgrimage of love—love for the land and its people, love for the faith traditions which tie us to the land, and love for the source of it all—the Holy One, Creator and Redeemer.
- post daily as we hear from those we were scheduled to meet with on our tour about the situation on the ground
- reflect on the cycles of violence that threaten us all and contemplate how we might disrupt them