Friday, November 11, 2022

Two interfaith events between Muslims and Jews, on opposite sides of the Middle East

The JC reports:

In the shadow of the UAE’s elaborate Grand Mosque and its white marble spires, interfaith representatives from across the world are gathered to listen to, of all people, a rabbi. 

It is a scene that would have seemed unlikely a few years ago, and at times impossible. In the ballroom of Abu Dhabi’s Ritz Carlton, among the chandeliers, dates and gold, Chief Rabbi Mirvis made an unprecedented address to the audience of hundreds of Islamic scholars and leaders.

The first UK chief rabbi to ever visit the Emirates, Rabbi Mirvis was welcomed to the Abu Dhabi Peace Forum by its president, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, a revered Islamic scholar. 

Addressing the crowd in a mixture of Biblical Hebrew, Arabic and English, Rabbi Mirvis called on leaders of all faiths to “achieve the unachievable” and build on the historic peace brought about by the Abraham Accords two years ago. 
Over 7000 km away, another kind of interfaith gathering happened recently - in Morocco:
After a forced two-year hiatus linked to the pandemic, the emblematic Atlantic Andalusian Festival returned this year for its 18th edition. 

President and Founder of the Essaouira Mogador association, André Azoulay, adviser to King Mohammed VI. speaks of it with passion and fervor: “It is an indescribable festival, which never ceases to amaze and which, in the eyes of some, brings together all the paradoxes: a festival which has not always been understood. We were often seen as somewhat naïve dreamers, expressing a reality that many had turned their backs on.”

Azoulay repeats it frequently: this meeting is the only one in the world to bring together thousands of Muslims and Jews, who have chosen to meet in Essaouira for the simple “happiness of being together."

This is more than a slogan for the followers of this committed festival: against the current of a culture of indifference and denial. And this year, more than 10,000 came to listen to the songs and music of the malhun or the Judeo-Arab matrouz.

“We blew the numbers. Never - I who dream a lot for my country, my city and my Andalusia - had I dared to imagine that they would be there by the thousands from Israel, France, Canada, the United States, Latin America, from Africa and the Arab world… Shoulder to shoulder to sing and dance together.

On social networks, explains Azoulay, the videos of the concerts and the forums of the festival amount year after year in millions of views. 
And of course soon thousands of Israelis will descend to Qatar for the World Cup.

We live in amazing times. No wonder the Israel haters are perpetually angry.

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Read all about it here!