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Discover, Watch, Listen: Listening to the Pain of Humanity

I have two offerings today for our community. The first is about the beautiful program the DJC hosted last week with The Parents Circle – Family Forum, which is a joint Israeli-Palestinian organization comprising of nearly 800 bereaved families who have lost close family members to the conflict. It was held on Zoom, which can sometimes be a challenging medium for human connection. But this was not the case during this program; throughout the program, I felt deep, invisible lines of pain and hope communicated across screens from the West Bank, Europe, and Canada. I am grateful to Arab Aramin and Yigal Elhanan who each shared their stories of love and loss, anger and brotherhood, and the circumstances that brought them to The Parents Circle and their deep and respectful friendship. 

If you could not attend the program last week, I encourage you to view the video recording of Shared Grief, Shared Hope. If you would like to learn more and continue the conversation about The Parents Circle’s work, you may wish to read the book “Apeirogon” by Colum McCann. This NYTimes bestseller novel follows stories from the perspective of Arab and Yigal’s fathers Bassam and Rami (both of whom previously served as co-directors of the organization).

The second offering is the video of the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Memorial Day Ceremony held this past Sunday, May 12. Organized and hosted by Parents Circle-Family Forum and Combatants for Peace, this annual ceremony included voices of Palestinian and Israeli children as well as bereaved speakers sharing their losses as well as their hopes for peace for all. 

American Friends of Combatants for Peace president, Gili Getz, reflected on the ceremony: 

Drowning in darkness and despair, we came together to mourn with the families of Israelis and Palestinians who lost members to violence. We gathered in Beit Jala because our Palestinian partners do not have permits to travel to Tel Aviv to be at the ceremony. It is clear that they are trying to keep us apart. Despite these obstacles, our faith is in each other, and our path is grounded in humanity. We all call this land home, and we believe supremacy, violence, fanaticism, occupation, and oppression are not the way. They will not keep anyone free or safe. The movement holds a sacred space for me. It gives me light, hope, and air. It is difficult for both societies to accept this path, but it’s a path that we believe in. We are a reference point to all who seek another way: the path of peace rather than separation and hate. We should all be able to thrive in this sacred land together. I’m filled with deep gratitude to all the hard work, care, and love so many Palestinians and Israelis put in to make this happen during these extremely challenging times. And to our supporters all over the world who watched the ceremony in solidarity at hundreds of events. 

Two particularly touching moments for me were hearing from Yonatan Zeigan, the son of Vivian Silver z”l (minute 50), and listening to the beautiful voices of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, which is made up of East and West Jerusalem youth, as they sang about hopeful and possible peace with a song that the chorus member wrote themselves in the wake of October 7.

Following the Joint Memorial Day Ceremony, American Friends of Combatants for Peace and American Friends of the Parents Circle-Families Forum hosted a conversation with bereaved Palestinian, Musa Juma’a, and bereaved Israeli, Maoz Inon – both of whom have suffered terrible losses on/since October 7.

From Rabbi Ilyse Glickman:

This is our ongoing blog series to introduce the DJC community to podcasts, books, websites, and other media offerings that may expand our understandings of the current war in particular and Israel/Palestine more broadly. I hope you listen/watch/read these recommendations with curiosity, openness, and empathy. Please let me know what you think about today’s offerings: rabbiglickman@djctoronto.com. I look forward to the conversation.

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