A group of local Jews, Muslims and Christians used a chance coincidence — the fast of Tammuz, a days when Jews mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and two Holy Temples, taking place during the month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn till sunset — to promote peace in light of the recent violence in Israel.
In a nondescript building on a largely empty block in Kensington, a Muslim call to prayer rings out. Inside, a rabbi and an imam sat next to one another, hungry after a day of fasting.
The Jews, Muslims and Christians gathered at the Al Aqsa Islamic Center on July 15 to use a chance occurrence — the fast of Tammuz, a days when Jews mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and two Holy Temples, taking place during the month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn till sunset — to promote peace in light of the recent violence between Arab terrorists in Gaza and Israel.
The day took on additional meaning with individuals and groups around the world participating in a Hunger Strike Against Violence. Locally, the Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation and the Shalom Center organized a fasting-break event at the mosque.
The crowd of more than 60 people heard Rabbi Arthur Waskow, founder of the Shalom Center, sing from the Book of Lamentations about the destruction of Jerusalem and then move to talk about the recent escalation in violence.
“This week, we witness the desolation, the despair of a number of cities,” said Waskow, who is part of the Jewish Renewal movement. “Some in Palestine, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in East Jerusalem, and some in Israel, in West Jerusalem, in Hadera, in Tel Aviv.” He closed by saying “the only guardian of all our peoples is the compassion that will make a peace among us.”
Imam Muhammad Shehata, who is originally from Egypt and leads the mosque, said through a translator: “We gather here today to call for peace and support peace throughout all the world.” He added, as the prophet Muhammad said, “the neighbor who does not protect his neighbor from evil and harm, indeed does not have faith.”