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Jumu’ah Mubaarakah and Shabbat Shalom

There’s a test on everything here these days. Patience. Forgiveness. Understanding.

Shabbat Shalom (שבת שלום),” Mohammad said to me on Thursday after Ulpan, our intense Hebrew-language class.

Jumu’ah Mubaarakah (جمعة مبارك),” I replied in Arabic.

It’s been a long, hot few weeks here in Jerusalem, and too many are dead. Two dead Israeli police who were guarding the high courtyard of Temple Mount (Har Ha-bayit), known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif). Muslim protesters confronting police outside the Lion’s Gate and nearby Wadi Joz. Jewish family members in Halamish murdered at their Shabbat table. The news has been grisly.

Ulpan has continued to meet, day in and day out, as fear and tragedy spin around us. Ulpan Milah, housed in HUC-JIR’s downtown Jerusalem campus, is a haven of multicultural care and connection. The campus is only few minutes’ walk to the Old City gates. This oasis of coexistence is also only a few minutes away from the flashpoint of Muslim protest, a place where domestic and international politics meet head on—in the street—with people’s fears, beliefs, ideologies, and misconceptions.

A week ago, after class, two young Muslim men—Mohammad and Mustafa—said “Shabbat Shalom.” I asked if there’s an equivalent phrase in Arabic for the Muslim sabbath. Ṣalāh al-Jum’ah is the congregational prayer that Muslims hold every Friday just after noon. Both young men spoke the greeting—Jumu’ah Mubaarakah—a into the voice recorder on my phone for me to learn.

“There will be a test on this,” Mustafa said.

There’s a test on everything here these days. Patience. Forgiveness. Understanding.

In Jerusalem, all eyes are on tomorrow, Friday, Ṣalāh al-Jum’ah, Erev Shabbat.

All eyes are on Har Habayit/Haram al-Sharif. It will be the first Ṣalāh al-Jum’ah after Israeli police installed then removed metal detectors and cameras at entrances to the compound. It will be the first time that Muslims will return to the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary for Friday prayers since the two Druze police were murdered with guns smuggled into that compound. Fears and tensions are high. Will we get through the day with a semblance of peace?

And as the day closes, concerns will rise that terror from yet another lone wolf will punctuate yet another Shabbat. Or a knifing. Or a ramming. Or a planned and organized attack.

After Ulpan today, I surprised Laviva—a mousy, sweet-faced young woman in a tightly wrapped hijab—with the greeting that Mohammad and Mustafa taught me. “Jumu’ah Mubaarakah.” She smiled and said thank you. Then she took the moment to ask me about tefillin.

“What are those boxes I see men wear on their heads and arms in the Old City?” After I explained, she asked: “Are they for men and women?” I said yes, but that some Jews disagree with me.

A young Muslim woman and a middle-aged Jewish man exchanging blessings and talking about religion. All around us, in the wake of anger and violence, the city wonders what will happen next.

Earlier that morning, during our 20-minute break, Laviva and Re’ham presented me with an Arabic translation of “Faith Reunion,” a prayer that I wrote for use at Muslim/Jewish interfaith gatherings. They’ve been working on the translation for two weeks, trying to get the words just right.

“Children of Abraham,” the prayer begins. Of course, in Arabic it begins, “Children of Ibrahim.”

And it continues: “We are family, cousins, and kin.”

Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Let us pray for the souls of the lost. Let us pray for our children.

Children of Abraham. Children of Ibrahim. Jumu’ah Mubaarakah (جمعة مبارك). Shabbat Shalom (שבת שלום). May it be God’s will.

Below is the Arabic translation of “Faith Renunion” by Laviva and Re’ham, followed by the English. I haven’t had it checked by a professional translator. Google Translate isn’t exactly perfect, so there are the expected laughable lines. I offer this as she offered it to me. As a gift of kindness. Perhaps someone who knows Arabic will offer some alternative suggestions.

Faith Reunion
طفال ابراهيم،
بنات وأبناء إسماعيل واسحاق،
نحن عائلة واحدة،
أبناء عمومة وأنساب،
مفرقون فقط بالتاريخ والوقت.

دعونا نجعل هذه اللحظة احتفالاً.
دعونا نجعل هذه اللحظة تجمع مقدساً.
دعونا نجعل هذه لحظة وصال مباركة.
منا من يُصرّح أن: الله أكبر.
ومنا من يُصرّح أن: أدوناي، هو الله.
جميعنا تواقون للنور والقداسة.
كل منا يصلي للفضيلة واللإحسان.
معاً سنبني عالماً من العدل والسلام.

اله واحد،
صوت الخلق،
همس الأبدية،
المنشأ والمأوى،
دعوا أصواتنا تضج بالصدى في نبضات قلوب الناس.
دعوا آمالنا تضج بصدى خفقان الشوق.
بورك من هنا.
بورك من هو بعيد.
بورك الشكاك والساخر.
بورك المبشر والمتفائل،
في يوم ما
سيعانق الناس بعضهم البعض،
بحبكم .

Children of Abraham,
Daughters and sons of Ishmael and Isaac,
We are family,
Cousins and kin,
Separated only by time and history.

Let this moment be a celebration.
Let this moment be a holy convocation.
Let this be a moment of blessed reunion.

Some of us proclaim: Allāhu akbar (الله أكبر).
Some of us proclaim: Adonai, Hu Ha’Elohim (יי הוא האלוהים).
All of us yearn for holiness and light.
Each of us prays for kindness and grace.
Together we will build a world of justice and peace.

One G-d,
Voice of Creation,
Whisper of Eternity,
Source and Shelter,
Let our voices resound in the heartbeat of our peoples.
Let our hopes resound in the pulse of our longings.
Bless those who are here.
Bless those who stayed away.
Bless the doubter and the cynic.
Bless the hopeful and the optimist,
That one day
All peoples embrace each other,
With Your love.

“Faith Reunion” is © 2017 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Alden Solovy is a Jewish poet, liturgist and teacher whose prayers have been used by people of all faiths around the world. The author of This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day, his more than 650 new prayers appear in multiple anthologies, prayer books and websites. His work can be found at tobendlight.com.

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