A Jew and a Muslim walk on the streets of Jerusalem and talk – High Holidays?
That’s what happened last Thursday, August 31. Organized by 0202-Points of View from Jerusalem, the tour in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and the Jewish practice of Selichot before the Jewish High Holidays gave participants a first-hand glimpse of events that are central to both religions. Like the Internet and Facebook pages aim to do, the tour led participants into a world that is completely different than their own. A seeming parallel reality of their everyday lives, yet still in their home city of Jerusalem.
The tour was actually two separate tours, one right after the other. The first tour began outside the New Gate of the Old City. Guides Tamer and Anwar (in two separate groups, since the first group filled up quite quickly) took participants through the Muslim Quarter as the pre-holiday fast ended and the Eid al-Adha festival began. They revealed how the holiday is celebrated by Muslim Jerusalemites.
Tamer took participants on whirlwind tour of different groups in the Old City, as a way to shed light on the its diverse religious make-up. They walked through the main thoroughfares of East Jerusalem, viewing the wondrous decorations and observing how this part of the city slowly woke up from its day of fasting. As night fell thousands of Jerusalem vendors, musicians, artists, families and performers came to the Old City to celebrate the holiday. As is custom on Eid al-Adha, people were getting haircuts and buying new clothes. Barbershops all over the city were filled to the brim with Muslims coming to get a new trim in honor of the holiday. Tamer also told about his own family traditions during the holiday. Toward the end of the tour Tamer also spoke about the identity of the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.
When the first tour ended, the second tour, of traditional Selichot prayers in Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, began. Ultra-Orthodox guide Ephraim led the groups. Ephraim took the tour to different yeshivot in order to explain the different practices surrounding Selichot. From Sephardim and Ashkenazim to the Hassidim to Mitnagdim, to the newly religious to kabbalah, they discussed possible parallels between Islam and Judaism. Both tours were riveting.
Ariella Bernstein, Chief of Staff at the Jerusalem Foundation who writes about her weekly Jerusalem unsung heroes, was so moved by the tour that she made the tour guides this week’s My Jerusalem Heroes:
Here’s the text of her post:
I am not sure that Efraim Levy (אפרים לוי) 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 0202 – מבט מירושלים החרדית, 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.
You can access the original post here.
0202 began in 2015 with one Arabic-to-Hebrew page, and received extensive mentoring from the JICC. 0202 has continued to develop, and today it consists of 3 Facebook pages (Arabic – Hebrew, Arabic – English, and Haredi – non-Haredi Hebrew), and reaches 150,000 people each week. Future plans call for 4 constantly-updated pages, tours like this and other events, making all of Jerusalem’s major populations accessible to everyone, world over. We’re so proud of 0202, and we’re happy to offer them any more help they might need.
Thanks Tamer, Anwar and Ephraim! Thanks 0202 for the fantastic tours! Here’s the photo album that was posted on the 0202 Facebook page: