Last night, Kids4Peace Jerusalem protested against the violence. We left our families, we left our bomb shelters, our neighborhoods, our villages, to come together as a community. Yes, many of us were terrified. Some community members and even staff sent messages of love and support but were too afraid to join.
In Kids4Peace Jerusalem, many members of our community have been directly affected by the terror and violence. Whether it be close personal relationships with the teenage boys who were murdered, military lock-down, inability to enter Jerusalem, violence in our neighborhoods, cities, and even inside some homes. Everyone in Jerusalem has felt threatened, felt afraid, and had run to a bomb shelter at least once, and the war in Gaza and the violence around us is growing.
What was our action? We had dinner. We: Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Palestinians and Israelis. We broke bread together. We caught up with old friends. We lent each other our ears, our shoulders, and our hearts. We feel that now more than have to take a stance against violence and this interfaith Iftar was just the beginning.
Kids4Peace Jerusalem co-director Mohammad Joulany opened the evening with a few explanatory words about the holy month of Ramadan, the spiritual opportunities it provides, and how an Iftar is a family dinner that breaks the daily fast. In the last few moments before sundown, members from each religion stood up and offered a prayer over the food. As the sun started to set over the 11th night of Ramadan, all who attended felt like family and broke the fast together.
Udi, K4P Jerusalem Steering Committee Chair compared the violence to the Kindergarten that he runs. He asked everyone to imagine what would happen if one of the kids came to him and said: so-and-so ruined my drawing, and his reply would be: well then go on and ruin everyone else’s drawing too. This, he pointed out, is the extremism in our societies. They are trying to destroy everything, but here we are coming together despite it all, making a stance against violence.
Below are quotes by those who attended the event.
“I came to prove to others that it is possible to be around people from the other side.”
-Eden, 9th grade, Muslim
“I came to show that other than all the fighting between Arabs and Jews, there is still a way here to show peace and love.” -Carla, 9th grade, Christian
“I came because I wanted to come. The war is making us all divide up and be on separate sides. It just makes me want to come even more to settle things down.” -Aviya, 7th grade, Jewish
“The dinner was a success, as I was in a room where Muslim, Jews and Christians were eating, talking laughing together I remembered John Lennon’s song: Imagine…” – Zahava, mother of Liav (Jewish)
“This is a really interesting meeting, but we have to build on it. It is one thing to come together, but let’s see how much we can make it grow.” -Francis, father of Mira (Christian)
“Yes, it is Ramadan and we came without the whole family. It is so important for us to be part of this meeting. We are Kids4Peace people, we are really in it.” -Aref, father of Adel (Muslim)