The holiday of second chances - Not too late for peace

shmura-matza-transparent320x265This Sunday, thirty days after Passover begins, there is another holiday – one almost no one has heard of. This holiday is called “Pesach Sheni” – second Passover- and has no celebrations, no special services, no seder.  Yet, perhaps we should consider reviving it.

Originally, it appears in the Bible because there were a number of people who were, for reasons out of  their control, unable to celebrate the Passover a year after leaving Egypt. Upset that they would be unable to celebrate, they complained to Moses, and were instructed to observe it a month later, just for one day.

Second Passover is the holiday of second chances.

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APN's Rabbi Alana Suskin in the Jerusalem Post: Don’t give up on Israel!

Last week, I received an email from Tikkun Magazine crowing, “Major American Jewish Leader Changes his Mind About Israel.” Rabbi David Gordis, who has served in an astonishing number of major American Jewish institutions, reflected on his years of love and advocacy for Israel, and on the rightward trend in Israeli policies. He wrote, “sadly, after a life and career devoted to Jewish community and Israel, I conclude that in every important way: Israel has failed to realize its promise for me. A noble experiment, but a failure.”

My heart sank. Many of us engaged in advocacy for Israel no doubt share Rabbi Gordis’ discontent with the trajectory of public affairs in Israel. Clearly there is reason to be troubled. Extremism has become embedded throughout every level of Israeli society. The occupation, and the racism that has grown from it, are alarming.

But, while I am sympathetic to your feelings of near-despair, Rabbi Gordis, I beseech you: don’t give up; Israel can’t afford to lose you.

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APN's Rabbi Alana Suskin and her co-panelist Dov Waxman speak at Open Hillel's teach-in about the Jewish tradition of dissent and the changing views of Israel as regards the occupation among American Jews


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Sukkot 5776: Build a Sukkah of Peace

sukkah-turkestan350x244Sunday night, September 27th, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot began. During the week-long holiday, Jews build a special kind of home to dwell in for the week, called a sukkah. The sukkah is a deliberately temporary house, which can have no more than one permanent wall, and whose roof must be open to the sky, covered only partially by natural materials such as branches. Over the course of the week, the Sukkah is supposed to be one’s home: to eat meals in, to celebrate, and even to sleep in.

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peace parsha feature 1 logoOn Wednesday (Sept. 23) as Jews end their Yom Kippur fast, Muslims will begin the Eid al-Adha holiday. Imam Haytham Younis and Rabbi Alana Suskin met for coffee and then exchanged the following email dialogue about the two holidays’ convergence and the meaning of a shared story that lies at the intersection of both faiths.

Suskin: It is a rare occurrence for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Eid al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice) to fall back-to-back, but seems appropriate somehow. Just a week ago, on Rosh Hashanah, we read the Torah portion relating the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son — the Jewish perspective of the same story that underlies Eid al-Adha. For Jews, this is the story of the sacrifice of Isaac at God’s command (stopped, of course, at the last moment, by an angel sent by God).

Younis: Yes. Eid al-Adha similarly commemorates the obedience of Abraham and his son to the command of God in fulfilling the sacrifice, as well as the observance of the pilgrimage to the House of God (the Kaaba) in Mecca, which, we believe, was established by Abraham. According to the Quran, the son involved in the sacrifice however, was Ishmael, not Isaac.

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Yom Kippur 5776 - A Story of Mending

Beginning tonight and continuing through Wednesday night, the holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, will be observed by Jews throughout the world.  Throughout the season leading up to Yom Kippur, Jews engage in the accounting of one's soul -cheshbon hanefesh: we examine our behavior,  taking an honest measure of ourselves and our community in the year that has passed.  This self-reflection reaches its pinnacle on Yom Kippur.

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David Broza Peace Page



Dear Friend,

Of course, it will be the politicians and diplomats who will negotiate the terms of a peace deal, but with all due respect to the negotiators, an enormous amount of work needs to be done, on the human level, to prepare the ground for a historic compromise, and to solidify the deal, once the ink dries.

DonateI believe that each and every one has access to tools to promote peace. The tools I have are my voice, my guitar, and my strumming fingers. They help me speak a language that everyone understands, the language of music. And through music they help me reach hearts and minds on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

In Israel, veteran musicians like me cannot avoid politics. You are pulled into the political arena without wanting to become a part of politics. It was my first song, Yihiye Tov (It will be Okay), that exposed me to the power of song. It was inspired and written at the occasion of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s 1977 visit to Israel, and it became my first hit. Although it spoke about the tragedy of “not seeing the end” to our wars and conflict, it is not a hopeless song. On the contrary, it is filled with faith and love.

I was active in Peace Now, the grassroots peace movement that was established to push then Prime Minister Menachem Begin to sign a peace agreement with Sadat, and which four years later brought 400,000 Israelis to protest against the Lebanon War. Today, people refer to that war as the “first” Lebanon War. Yes, there was a second. Just like we’ve had a first intifada and second intifada, a first Gaza war, and second, and third. I’m losing count.

During that war, in 1982, I was drafted to sing in the front lines. It was my first experience in a war zone, and I became shell-shocked. I was angry and depressed. I performed in anti-war demonstrations. My managers warned me that my political activity was going to destroy my career. That didn’t stop me.

For years, I sought ways to fulfill my dream of not only singing about peace but of actually making peace, on a small scale, through music. Thirty years later, I started working on East Jerusalem West Jerusalem, an album that is a journey, a collaborative experience with Palestinian musicians, focusing on hope and peace. The opening song of this album, “One to Three,” says: “I was born into this reality/ I was brought up with a war/ That doesn’t mean I must accept it/ Don’t want to fight no more.

On both sides of our divide, most of us — almost all of us, I believe — don’t want to fight any more. We are tired and scarred and fed up with pain and hatred. We seek hope for a better future. This is what my album expresses, hope for a peaceful future between Israelis and Palestinians, a future in which we connect with each other as human beings, above and beyond our national differences.

I tried to both express and practice this notion while creating the album, recording for eight days and eight nights in East Jerusalem, at the studio of the Palestinian band Sabreen, with Palestinian musicians and fellow Israeli musicians.

East Jerusalem, West JerusalemI love the album, the product of these eight days in the studio, but I equally loved the journey, working jointly with my Palestinian and Israeli musician friends and the great American singer songwriter and Grammy Award winner Steve Earle as producer in the intimate settings of the Sabreen recording studio. I’m so happy that we documented on video the making of the album, as well as the friendships that I forged with some of my Palestinian musical partners.

The documentary was recently completed and has not yet been distributed. One of my favorite scenes in the DVD is the one documenting the experience of sitting with my friend and musical partner Issa Freij of Sabreen on the roof of his family’s home in the Old City of Jerusalem, making music, laughing, together finding chords on our guitars to accompany the Muslim call for prayer. It’s an experience I will never forget. And it was completely genuine. There was no acting — these people are my friends and partners in peace. I’m blessed to have many peace partners.

As someone who has always been close to Israel’s Peace Now movement, and proud of it, I am today proud to partner with its US sister organization, Americans for Peace Now, to offer you the album and the film — a CD and DVD set — for a donation of $72 or more. All but $15 of your donation is tax-deductible.

As I see it, your gift to APN is a way for you to contribute to bringing Israelis and Palestinians closer to peace. I hope you enjoy the CD and the film documenting the path that led to it, and I hope that both inspire you to continue working for peace.

“Peace gotta come!”

Shana Tova, May this be a year of peace,
David Broza


Broza and friends


Born in Israel and raised in England and Spain, Israeli superstar singer-songwriter DAVID BROZA combines folk, flamenco, pop and rock-and-roll, and performs in English, Hebrew and Spanish. He is known for his passion and dedication to humanitarian and political projects, first and foremost the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, Broza is one of Israel’s most prolific and diverse musicians. East Jerusalem West Jerusalem is his 28th album.




Don't miss this inspiring piece in the New York Times on singer David Broza and his efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians together through music.



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