Maybe we should join them.
On Tuesday, July 15, Jews and Arabs will fast, together. From Texas to Tel Aviv, Kalansuwa to Kuwait, in synagogues and mosques, community centers and public spaces, they will gather to learn, pray and talk to each other as part of Choose Life, a movement looking for a way past the violence, deaths and pain of the last month.
“The timing is right,” said Eliaz Cohen, one of the organizers of Choose Life. “It’s an opportunity for two nations to link back to their roots, to Ramadan and our [Jewish] fast.”
The idea was conceived after the kidnapping and murder of Gil-Ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, and the subsequent kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. A group of Jews and Arabs, activists from the West Bank who have long worked together, came up with the idea to forge a path of nonviolent protest through a joint fast.
The timing couldn’t have been better.
The 17th of Tammuz, a fast day that commemorates the breach of Jerusalem’s walls before the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70, falls out on Tuesday. It’s the start of a three-week mourning period leading up to Tisha B’Av, a more well-known fast day that marks the destruction of the temple.
Tuesday is also the 18th day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast from dawn till sunset each day for the entire month.
The joint fast “is not a sixties anti-war thing,” said Shaul Judelman, one of the Choose Life organizers. “It’s coming from a religious place, which is tricky when rockets are falling. But our future seems to be here together, and no one’s going anywhere.”