Monday, August 08, 2005

Interfaith Delegation Visits Shfaram

I'm saddened by the terror attack, but I am heartened to see Israelis of all faiths coming together in the aftermath of this tragedy.

More than a dozen Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious figures visited bereaved families in Shfaram on Monday night, showing solidarity with the victims of last week's shooting by a Jewish soldier.

"Even right-wing rabbis called to convey their condolences, or came in person," said Father Nadim Shakour of Shfaram, who received the group. "It was beautiful."

The group represented Kedem, a project of the Inter-religious Coordinating Council in Israel, which itself is an umbrella organization of numerous coexistence groups.

The visit was the first by a group from Kedem, which is in its third year of activity, to families of a violent attack. However, said ICCI director Rabbi Ron Kronish, it was "almost an instinctive reaction" to the murders of Muslim and Christian residents of Shfaram by Eden Natan Zada.

"That despicable act defied the laws of man and the laws of God, not just the laws of the state," Rabbi Shlomo Brinn of Yeshivat Har Etzion told The Jerusalem Post on Monday night.
"As rabbis, we felt absolutely terrible about it. And for all of us, who believe that man is created in the image of God, it was especially reprehensible."

The Kedem members visited the families of Christian and Muslim victims alike. At the Christian school where one of the mourning families was receiving well wishers, Kadi (Muslim religious judge) Muhammad Zibdi told all those gathered that they had the opportunity "to turn all our schools and places of prayer into institutions that teach the principles of tolerance, understanding, peace and love."

All the participants were well received and treated with great respect by the Shfaram residents, Brinn, Zibdi and Shakour agreed.

Shakour, a Melkite priest who lives and ministers in Shfaram, said the residents "are in a constant state of grief and shock.

"This kind of thing [the murders] doesn't help ease the tension between Jews and Arabs, Christians and Muslims, Druse and Circassians, etc. But the visit has strengthened the relationships between us.

"Our unity is the answer to all those who would divide us and harm us," he said. "Love always conquers in the end."


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