Yom Sheini, 15 Iyyar 5779
Monday, 20 May 2019
Why I fasted for peace in the Middle East

By Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi
The Guardian, 16th July 2014

Like many people – Jews and non-Jews alike – I have been watching the events in Israel and Gaza unfold with horror. I am shocked at the deaths of so many Palestinians. At the same time, I feel for Israelis who are living in fear, with continual shelling. How can one respond in the face of all the complexities?

So when I received an email from Yachad, a British Jewish organisation that campaigns for peace through a two-state solution, about a worldwide fast to mourn the loss of life and express our hope for peace, it felt like the right thing to do. I had already been contemplating fasting. Along with other faith leaders, I was invited last night to an Iftar, the breaking of the day’s Ramadan fast, at Birmingham Central Mosque. It would have felt wrong to be breaking a fast without fasting.

At the same time, it is the Jewish Fast of Tammuz, the beginning of a three-week period of mourning for the siege of Jerusalem in the year 70. As a Progressive Jew I do not normally keep the fast, but yesterday there was ample cause for mourning: the loss of life, the suffering and the seemingly intractable conflict in Israel and Palestine. In joining a fast with the message of “Hungry for Peace” with hundreds of Jews and Muslims in this country, and across the world, we hope we sent the message that we yearn for peace and we mourn the loss of the life of every human being – Jew or Muslim, Israeli or Palestinian.  Read more