Photo Credit: 0202

A Muslim and Jew Talk High Holidays

I am not sure that Efraim Levy and Tamer Said would have met without the moon. It’s the moon that sets Jewish and Muslim calendars and it is the coincidence of Muslim and Jewish holidays that brought them together. This weekend, Muslims celebrate the holiday of Eid Al Adha, the “Sacrifice Feast” honoring the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is but a few weeks away and now is a time of serious contemplation.

Efraim and Tamer honored each others’ faiths last night in a one-of-a kind tour organized by 0202 — A View from East Jerusalem and Jerusalem’s Ultra-Orthodox, organizations that offer a glimpse into Jerusalem’s real people. Tamer, a Jerusalem-born Muslim, kicked off the evening as Eid Al Adha holiday celebrations began. Onward they walked as Efraim, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, led the group to take part in “Selichot,” penitential prayers chanted during the late night hours in the month before Rosh Hashana.

Efraim and Tamer never met before last night yet they walked away with a better understanding of each other. “I learned about Islam’s diversity, its character, and how Eid Al Adha is celebrated,” said Efraim. Tamer saw commonality. “There is a faith-based understanding and acceptance, and what brought me closer was my feeling that I can identify with ultra-Orthodox society,” Tamer explained.

What amazes me is the humility I heard in their voices, the reluctance in accepting the extraordinary nature of their cooperation. “I don’t think I have much to contribute above anyone else — I’m just an ultra-Orthodox student learning economics,” Efraim proclaimed. “Someone should represent Islam from the Palestinian perspective and talk with Jews on an interfaith level,” said Tamer. For their humility alone, Efraim and Tamer are #MyJLMHeroes this week.

Your partnership last night was exceptional. You are the epitome of all that is sacred in Jerusalem. Too bad the world wasn’t here to see it but at least the moon bore witness.