Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name), was a mystic and spiritual teacher who lived in the 18th century Eastern Europe and founded the Hasidic movement in Judaism. According to Hasidic teachings, a Jewish spiritual practice is a mitzvah, an opportunity for the soul to connect to the Divine. Rosh Hashanah is associated with the mitzvah of sounding the Shofar (traditionally a ram’s horn) to wake the soul from its spiritual slumber and during Elul (the month preceding Rosh Hashanah). It is customary to sound the Shofar every day during morning prayers to prepare for the Jewish New Year. Continue reading “How Blowing the Shofar Can Blow Your Mind and Awaken Your True Self”
I was just sitting down to a 90 second video distraction before I began my social media night-shift here in the Holy City of Jerusalem and you wont believe what happened! I was watching the Google’s Year In Search 2014 video, curious to see what Google curated for the collective zeitgeist of 2014, and 40 seconds in I saw this photo:
During times of war it is very easy to dehumanize those we perceive to to be the ‘other’ and to forget we are human beings ourselves. The humanity in this IDF soldier resonates off of him as he chants ‘no more war, no more bloodshed’ and turns his nagmash (Hebrew for armoured personnel carrier) into a drum for peace.
Although this was filmed in 2011, it still captures a spirit that I know is very strong today in the Israel Defense Forces, and it is this spirit that is the key to a peaceful future.
I know many soldiers in the IDF who pray for peace and do not want war. Sometimes it’s hard to see that through all the reports of the bombs and the body counts.
My friend who Yonatan A. who served in the infantry of the Kfir brigade and is now in the reserves told me: “The pain and suffering of the people in Gaza is heart-wrenching, it hurts. It’s every soldiers dream to wake up one day and be sent home because there is peace but until then we gotta do everything to protect our families, but not in a barbaric way, obviously. I hope for a time where both peoples realize how similar and closely related we really are, that just working together we can reach unbelievable places.” Continue reading “10 Photos of the Peaceful Warriors of the Israel Defense Forces”
When I worked at the National Library of Israel, I found a book of photographs depicting the graffiti covering the giant concrete slabs that make up part of what is known to some as the ‘security fence’ and to others as the ‘separation wall’. In big white letters someone had spray painted ‘we are not enemies’. These words haunted me. I wanted to meet the person living on the other side of that wall who wrote that. Continue reading “Grassroots Jerusalem: Fasting for Peace with Jews and Muslims in the Holy City”