It often surprises people when I tell them that during the two years we lived in Egypt, we never visited the Holy Land. Now some Egyptian Christians would take offense at that description, since they consider Egypt to be a holy place – the refuge to which Jesus and his parents fled, according to the Gospel of Matthew. It is only 700 miles across the Sinai Peninsula to get from one country to the other, if you don’t take the circuitous route Moses did when leading the people to the promised land. Of course, years of conflict, both political and violent, have meant that traveling between the two countries is fairly inconvenient.
This is the complicated nature of the Middle East and Israel’s relationship with Palestine and its neighbors. Proximity does not necessarily breed understanding. This is why it is hard for U.S. Christians, who are so removed from the places and the people of Israel and Palestine, to fully understand the generations of struggle from the past, the realities of life in Israel and Palestine on the ground today, and the potential success or failure of plans to make peace in the future.
Over the next several weeks we will be scratching the surface of these issues, hearing from a diversity of voices, all who seek peace, describing the human cost of conflict and the human potential for understanding.
For a full description of classes happening in October, check out this page on our website. Please note that these presentations will be held after worship in the Sanctuary around 11:15 a.m. They also will be livestreamed to our website so that those who are more comfortable viewing from home can participate virtually.
The highlight of the month will be the Community Forum presentation by Israeli journalist Yossi Klein Halevi on Monday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Main Line Reform Temple in Wynnewood. We are delighted to reschedule this event which was originally scheduled to be held in April 2020. Halevi’s book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor attempts to articulate an Israeli connection to the land alongside a sincere hope for peace.
Registration is now required to attend the Community Forum – either in person or via Zoom – as a way to manage COVID-19 restrictions at MLRT. Register here.
It is our hope that these opportunities to learn and be in conversation together will help each of us to understand the deep complications of this issue and find our own glimmer of hope that there will be a day in our lifetime when peace can be built together.