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2016-11-18 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


November 18, 2016  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

One nation under God

By RABBI DANIELLE UPBIN Cong Beth Shalom, Clearwater

Even though the Jewish holidays are behind us, their sacred message still reverberates. One of the main ideas of the Sukkoth Festival is unity: On each day of the Sukkoth Torah reading, we recall the sacrifices that were offered on behalf of the 70 nations of the world. We bind together and wave the arba minim (the four different species). We dwell together with friends, family and the stranger underneath the temporary shelter of the Sukkah. A remarkable idea – as Jews, we not only pray for our own; we pray for the peace and well-being of “the other” and of the whole world.

It was no coincidence that this past Hoshanna Rabbah, the last day of the Sukkoth Festival, one of our Christian colleagues, Rev. Becky Robbins- Penniman of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, organized a “faith walk” that brought together Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist communities for the inaugural “United Faiths Walk of Peace” in Dunedin.

The organizers kept the program small this year to test the waters and to keep the event manageable. To quote the mission statement: “The purpose of the 3-mile walk was to promote community building through the simple act of walking side-by-side for a common purpose: Hope and peace. The walk is inspired by the Abraham Path, which illustrates how communities and people can prosper through “hospitality, meeting, and human encounters.”

The outpouring of support was tremendous. More than 200 participants of different faiths walked together with the modest goal of “walking and talking” – good old-fashion civil dialogue.

According to Rev. Robbins-Penniman, the walk is a “modest effort to confront the current atmosphere of contentious rhetoric and polarizing positions with a simple act of walking and talking with those who differ from us, but who are united by a common prayer that the world live in peace among all peoples.”

I feel blessed to have participated in that walk. I met wonderful people of all faiths. I exchanged ideas with young Muslim women and men and renewed connections with many Christian friends. My 13-year-old son exchanged “Instagram” photos with a newly arrived Muslim teen from Saudia Arabia. When we arrived at the Mosque, the boys proudly whisked my son away for a private tour. I felt like we were with family.

I believe that the spirit of the Jewish festival was lived out in full color that day on the streets of Dunedin. My heart is filled with hope for a year of peace, dialogue, and more shared traditions. In the words of one Muslim mother, about my age, who walked the path with me – “We are 99 percent the same. 1 percent is different. Let’s focus on the 99 percent.”

Amen, holy sister.

The Rabbinically Speaking column is provided as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis. Columns are assigned on a rotating basis by the board. The views expressed in the column are those of the rabbi and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Jewish Press or the Board of Rabbis.

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