American army veteran Taylor Force was attacked and murdered in Jaffa. On that same day, throughout Israel ten other victims were attacked as well by knife-wielding hate-filled attackers. We mourn Taylor and say prayers of healing for the other victims and their families. Citizens and visitors alike in this beautiful city were worried and angered. And we – sitting on the other side of the globe – respond clearly: We see you. We hear you. We support you. #wewontletterroristswin
24 Hours Earlier
24 hours earlier, I walked the very same Israeli port city of Jaffa, spending hours meandering through those very same streets, which the next day momentarily became a terrorist’s killing field. Wandering around the alleyways of this ancient city, I became enamored with its uniqueness:
As a shared city that celebrates co-existence between Palestinian Israelis and Jewish Israelis
As home to so many Jews, Christians and Muslims who live together in harmony
As the vibrant host to shuk hapishpishim, an energetic open market, offering bargains, relaxing coffee shops, and enticing boutiques
As the beautiful port of import and export, home to fishing boats and container ships, welcoming in exotic goods and sending out Israeli produce to the world
As the exciting haven inviting travelers to sit into delicious restaurants, listen to beautiful music, enjoy daring cultural offering, and even pray to the Holy One on Shabbat
Location of Mishkanot Ruth Daniel, a residence hotel and gathering place, for people from around the world, run by the Reform Synagogue Beit Daniel.
Yet if you just read your newsfeed, Jaffa might become embedded in your memory as just another terrorist killing field.
A Mecca for Millennials; The Calm of Coexistence
But 24 hours earlier, as I walked the city for hours on end, I experienced something fabulous. A unique city, poised for prayer, prepared to preach the calm of coexistence.
A mecca for millennials to congregate and connect. Jerusalem on the water, a place of secular/religious pilgrimage for Jews, Christians, Muslims and other faiths where their prayers are put into action creating a city that works and hopes and dreams.
Earlier in the week, at the convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis last week, we spoke with Ibrahim Abu Shindi, head of the Arab Jewish Community Center in Jaffa, who taught us the ABC of his community’s activities: Changing Attitudes. Changing Behaviors. Changing the Community and neighborhood.
Jaffa has long been doing that: Changing community. Building community.
And a terrorist, momentarily wielding a knife, cannot, will not, must not, DID NOT, transform the essential nature of this gorgeous port city. #wewontletterroristswin
Jaffa Continues to Be Vibrant
I was on a plane back to the United States when this all went down. But what I heard since has inspired me.
That immediately after mourning the dead, praying for the injured, and consoling the bereaved, the people of Jaffa brushed themselves off to celebrate the vibrant city of Jaffa. The very next day, resilient, people were out on the street and in the shops and in the port, again living their regular lives. Lives that inspire.
Because no some hate-filled terrorist’s momentary madness may set the agenda – or the ta’am (flavor) for – this fascinating city, for any of us. #wewontletterroristswin