April marks the confluence of the sacred seasons of Passover, Easter and Ramadan, and I believe one of the best ways to honor our Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions is by offering a confluence of compassion for our Palestinian brothers and sisters who have suffered so much from the Coronavirus pandemic. Early in March – during the peak of what would have been their major season for tourism – a victim of the virus was found in the Palestinian community of Beit Jala. Understandably fearing the spread of the virus, all Palestinian hotels, restaurants, banks and other places of business were ordered to be closed. This together with the disease itself and the ongoing injustices of the Israeli occupation have been devastating for the Palestinian people.
Sequestered in our own homes, practicing “social distancing”, many of us feel powerless in the face of this insidious virus, and throughout this crisis, we have seen the worst and the best of the human spirit. We have seen those who have chosen to hoard basic supplies and perpetrate xenophobia and misinformation, but we have also seen the incredible, even miraculous capacities for the human spirit – EMT’s, nurses, doctors, first responders, volunteers, those of all different faiths and those of no particular faith who have risked exposure in order to provide for the needs of others. We have seen the ingenuity of the human spirit in those who have devised face masks and engineered ventilators.
May these examples inspire us all to respond not only with our thoughts and prayers but also with our compassion and generosity. Thankfully, Tree of Life has partners in Palestine who can help us provide food baskets – however many we can supply – for those in need. We will work closely with Siraj, a non-profit Palestinian organization that guides us through our annual journeys to Palestine. They have kindly offered to help administer these gifts and distribute them to those most in need.
Each basket will cost $60 and will contain rice, flour, milk, oil, tuna, lamb, canned goods and other supplies (like the ones pictured here in this photo from our partners), and our friends in Palestine will distribute to those most in need.
Please let us know how many food baskets you would like to provide, click here to donate.
Our partner Michael from the Siraj Center had this to say about the joint basket initiative:
“This virus does not consider differences. It’s a threat to all of us. Locking down the cites may help to stop the spread of the virus, but a lot of people have lost their jobs and are without income. We hope these food boxes will provide some help for families in need and help them stay strong during this pandemic. Many thanks to Tree of Life Educational Fund for your generous help and support!” – Michel Awad, Executive Director of the Siraj Center
As a child, Jesus, born to a Jewish family would have been asked the question “What does God require for one to be faithful?” Steeped in the wisdom of Isaiah and the other prophets, he learned the answer at an early age: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry?” (Isaiah)
Likewise, The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Feed the hungry, visit the sick and set free the captives.”
May these prophetic voices of compassion – Isaiah, Jesus and Muhammad — move us to be a confluence of generosity and compassion! We are not powerless in the face of this virus. We can be a mighty confluence of our sacred traditions, and we can show our friends in Palestine that we care!
Reverend David W. Good