This 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.
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
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.
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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Sunday 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.
On 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.
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.
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.
I 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
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.
I 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 APNis 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,
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.
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