After an incredible weekend sewing the panels together for the first ever sefer Torah scribed by a community of Women from around the world, called Kadima’s Women’s Torah Project, I had a realization about peace in Israel. I will preface this, by saying that I am probably not the first person to think of this. I wanted to share it with you because to me, it is such a wonderful dream– and I know that saying or writing it down, might help it come true some day.
This weekend we read from the Women’s Torah. It was the passage about Sarai (later Sarah) and Hagar. Abram (later Abraham) was married to Sarai, and she could not conceive a child. So Sarai told her husband to sleep with Hagar, their handmaiden, so that they could have a child. Abram did this, but when Hagar conceived, Sarai got jealous and angry and basically banished the pregnant Hagar and later her son Ishmael.
In my opinion, this was a terrible thing to do to Hagar. It made me wonder if there are other times that the Jews were mean to the Arabs or Palestinians in the Bible and vice versa, times when the Arabic people were mean to the Jews. I think we should go through the Bible, find those stories and officially apologize to one another. It is time to re-evaluate how we treated each other back then, apologize to one another and set the record straight, so that maybe one day we can move forward.
Then my hope would be that we would add each other to our prayers. As Jews, when we pray, we often mention Abraham, Isaac Sara and Rachel. I think we should also add Hagar and Ishmael. I think the Arabic people should add the names of the Hebrews to their prayers. I believe that if we pray for one another to be together, we will be! I know what you are thinking– fat chance! But hey, this is my dream and I am a “serial optimist.” And so, there is even more to this….
There would be one central temple built in Jerusalem for all the Jews, Christians and Muslims. There would be sections of the temple for each of the individual religions to have their own private sacred space, along with one large central sanctuary for everyone to gather. There would be concessions made for each religion in that space– such as a Nir Tamid (eternal light), and floor mats for praying, etc…. And, on Christmas, for example, the central sanctuary would be reserved for Christian believers, whereas on Yom Kippur, it would be reserved for the Jews. But there would also be times when we could all gather to pray together. I could see His Holiness the Dalai Lama as our mediator.
First and foremeost, this worship environment would be a place for celebrations and festivals– for art, music, food, philosophy and more. I would also like to see libraries with a wealth of books, artifacts and information on each of these religions from around the world. As well as an outdoor praying space among the trees. All food there would be organically grown nearby– or on site. Only vegetarian, vegan food would be allowed there. There would be plenty of skylights. The building would be “green” and technologically up to date.
If you thought my last ideas were “out there”, try this one– The big stretch– the ultimate fantasy– forgiveness and oneness. Will this ever be possible? Just as a fantasy, here’s an idea…. If somehow the world could come together and make Jerusalem an “Independent State,” maybe we could have peace. It would be a spiritual center like none before– kind of like a United Nations state– only spiritual.
So what do you all think? If we will it, it is no dream.
Peace on Earth,