We have so much going on in our community! As many of you have noticed, there’s often too much for our small staff to cover. And lately there’s been so many interesting events that you, our readers, may have had to choose between several activities on any given day. This is a sign of a vital, vibrant community. No complaints here.
The week of April 4, hundreds of community members attended two separate events, for a little information and interaction.
These were important, multicultural events, bringing together diverse groups from the greater community.
From Thursday through Saturday evening, at four separate venues, people turned out to hear the powerful stories of Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger and Ali Abu Awwad. U.S.-born Schlesinger is an Israeli settler; Awwad is a Palestinian activist. Together they travel through the U.S. and Europe, bringing a message of hope for peace in Israel.
They spoke of living separate lives within miles of each other and how they came together with other Palestinians and settlers to build an organization, Roots, that fosters reconciliation and helps Israelis and Palestinians learn about each other and work toward peace and understanding.
As Schlesinger told me in an interview several weeks ago, “We are trying to bring people together who live in the heart of the conflict.” He explained that Roots is not a political group.
“We are neither rightist or leftist,” he said. “The only future is to talk to each other and understand each other.”
In Rhode Island, Schlesinger and Awwad made stops at Brown University, Temple Beth-El and Temple Beth Sholom, in Providence, and Masjid al-Islam, in North Smithfield. In each venue they attracted crowds of more than 100 people, who were impressed by their stories. The people I heard from were all moved by what they had heard.
At a different but equally powerful event Sunday, about 120 Rhode Islanders from the Jewish and Muslim communities in the East Greenwich area got to know each other a little better as they built and raised a symbolic Abraham’s Tent at Temple Torat Yisrael. Singing, dancing, teen discussions, cooking and a food-laden table all brought this community a little closer. Friendships were made and renewed, and plans are in the works for more events like this.
You read about Roots in the last issue of The Voice. You can read more about Abraham’s Tent and other events you might have missed elsewhere in The Voice.
This week’s paper is so loaded with articles and advertising that many of the good photos we had from events like the Kosher Café seder and Abraham’s Tent didn’t make it in. However, beginning this week, you’ll be able to easily find this extra material, as well as the content of the newspaper, on our newly revamped website.
That’s right! We’ve been working for months to bring you a website that is easy to navigate, provides news updates as they occur, and displays photos that don’t make it into the paper. We expect to publish much more material online than we have been able to in the past, including photo galleries, We Are Read, and more of those events that are happening throughout the community. We’ll also be bringing you news from other Jewish publications around the world in our newest feature, The Jewish Reader.
Plus, you’ll be able to send us your news electronically and post to our community calendar online. We’re hoping our readers will become more active in helping us showcase the photos and stories that make our community special. And the new site (at the same address, jvhri.org) also will open up more opportunities to advertise with us and reach our growing audience. We’ll publish a how-to guide to the new website in our next issue.
These are exciting times, and we want you to know what we are working on. We’re committed to helping build a stronger Jewish community here in Rhode Island and we believe our new site is a step in that direction.
This week is also the start of our annual Patron Campaign – an important cog in the wheel of support at The Voice. There’s an envelope in the paper for your convenience. Or, try out the website, where you can donate electronically. Either way, we hope you’ll continue to support The Voice. We appreciate it – and the whole community benefits from a strong Jewish newspaper and website.