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Home » 3 Faiths Together


4 June 2018 No Comment

Father John Walsh

In our North American culture there is a divide between the secular and the religious, to the point of privatizing religion to the family and places of worship. CJA sponsored a group of thirty-seven people under the leadership of Jeff Segal and Steve Gross to be on a Mission to Israel. Our greatest discovery was that the tension between the secular threads and the religious threads weave the fabric of life in Israel. At the Knesset Tzipi Livni, opposition leader of the Zionist Union Party, openly criticizes the Netanyahu coalition. At Mount Scopus we broke Halah bread and shared a cup of wine praying the Shehecheyanu: praising our Eternal, King of the universe, for giving us life, sustaining us, and enabling us to come to this day. We listened attentively to Ofer Berkovitch, a 34 year aspirant to the Office of Mayor of Jerusalem who passionately spoke of a well-coordinated plan to bring even greater prosperity to the City of Gold. In a very security conscious country Buky Carnell, former Director of the Israeli NCSA – the National Cyber Security Authority offered an enlightening overview of how incredible creativity results in protection of all citizens. Then a tour of the Old City greets every person with the roots of the three traditions of the monotheistic religions, Judaism Christianity and Islam; striving to weave the threads of the traditions to Abraham, the Father of the faith of all three. As Christians the Church of the Holy Sepulchre drew us to the foundational tenet of faith, the death of Jesus on Calvary, his burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and his being raised to life in the Resurrection. In a flurry of emotions we were introduced to Dr. Colonel Dany Tirza the person responsible for the building of fence and wall separating Israel from the Palestinians. He presented the need for the separation but clarified that ninety-seven percent was a fence and only a small percentage was a wall, a massive wall when standing beside it and touching its power. Then a thread of hope in unimaginable; Dany expresses the hope that one day the wall, like that in Berlin, will be removed. The tread of hope now weaved alongside the thread of the utter inhumanity of human suffering at the Yad Va’shem Shoah Museum. The future of the lives of millions of Jews, and millions of non-Jews, denied on the sole judgement of the inequality of human beings; the greater being the Arian race, and the “lesser-than-human,” the Jews. One and a half million children unable to foresee family life, community life, unable to say le’chaim, to life. Never Again! Never again to love and be loved. The need we have for compassion to go where it hurts, to enter into a places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human. God requires of us what is good, and authentic religion and true faith is “to do justice, the love tenderly, and to walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8). Our hearts are restless until they rest in God. (St, Augustine) The thread of the hustle and bustle of life in Israel was more than evident at the Machne Yehuda Market. The busy days came to a rest at Shabbas Diner where Helen Gottstein, known for her one-woman-show” on confronting differences, challenged us to face our own reactions to those who are unlike us. Shabbat shalom!
History teaches us lessons we cannot avoid. At Massada the confrontation of Roman power and the choice of the refugees on Massada was to either give in to power or to rely on a more noble cause of protecting others from inevitable moral harm. The choice of the latter led to the means of mass suicides and the choice still remains controversial but not without the embracing the thread that runs throughout history, “we don’t know everything.” At times it is simply to experience the “never-before-experience” of weightlessness in the Dead Sea and to use its healing powers. Nature manifest its power in natural disasters to which we are called upon to respond. Dr. Ofer Merin spoke to us as Commander of the IDF Field Hospital and his involvement in several major deployments to many areas of the world when natural disasters strike. The breadth and depth of the undertakings require minute preparations and strict discipline in their execution. The intention is simple: the saving of as many lives as possible over a period of two to three weeks of endless hours of medical intervention. Expertise results from experimentation and Israel’s entrepreneurial start-ups have proved to be world leading edge contributors. “Mobileye” innovated car collision avoidance technology based on innovative software algorithms processing visual information. A start-up sold to “Intel” for billions of dollars. The secular thread weaving its way into the fabric of life. The Castel Winery was a stop-over to celebrate the accomplishment of a young country. History is ever-present and was visually explosive at Petra in Jordan. Hand-hewn in stone are the magnificent sculptures of engineering innovation and of incredible detail of artistic talent; a Nabatean creation dates three centuries B.C.E. It is said that eighty-five percent are still underground. Modernity glows brightly in Tel Aviv; everything is available in a city of 100,000 people. Yossi Vardi one of the country’s first high-tech entrepreneurs share his story with a great sense of humour but as a philanthropist dedicates 100,000$ to start-ups of young entrepreneurs to assure that the future of creative innovations will thrive. Earth-bound we visit space at the Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) where land, sea and space benefit from new and many secretive developments in the many venture of the IAI. Money makes the world and Israel go round at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange where new opportunities for investments are made available internally and world-wide. The last conference by Dr. Nadine Bodo-Trajtenberg, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Israel, a former Montrealer, identifiable immediately by her accent in French, offered a most interesting overview of the demographics of the divergent ethnic and religious communities, their level integration into Israeli society, and the level of poverty that have ensued. The last threads are added to a rich and colorful tapestry of a young country facing a future with exuberant and ebullient hope for progress and development, desirous of lasting peace with hostile neighbours and the end is but a beginning of a lengthy thinking and rethinking, interpreting and reinterpreting, of what was the establishment by the UN Israel in 1948, its 70 years of nationhood, and the role Israel will continue to play in the geopolitical decisions of the whole world in establishing a balance of power among the powers that support and condone the activities of all partners in the struggle to embark upon the road of peace in Middle East.


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