October 10, 2023—ICJS recognizes that this is a fearful time; the violence is overwhelming. Hamas attackers invaded Israel. Israeli military operations are intensifying in Gaza. Although the violence is taking place in Israel and Gaza—seemingly a world away—it has hit close to home here in Baltimore. People we know and love at ICJS have lost friends and family.
What do the ICJS interreligious mission and vision require us to do in the face of unspeakable violence?
First—We mourn. We grieve the loss of life and weep with those who suffer. We condemn the violence, especially against civilians—and particularly children and the elderly, the most vulnerable members of our human family. We pray for peace.
Second—We commit to standing up for one another. We are deeply concerned that the coming days and weeks will see a rise in Antisemitic and Islamophobic bullying and bigotry. We pray for the safety and security of all religious communities in the United States and around the world.
Third—We reach out and we listen. Silence around this moment advances neither justice nor peace. But what do we say to our friends and neighbors? For fear of offending someone, we often say nothing. But our friends and allies want to hear from us. We can start by reaching out to friends impacted by this violence—those in our own faith community and beyond it—to ask how they are doing.
Finally, we at ICJS envision a time—maybe not yet, but soon—when we will be able to take up our counter-cultural act of intentional dialogue. As one of the five core values of ICJS, dialogue is central to how we move in the world:
“Dialogue invites us to bring our commitments to each conversation and calls for patience, humility, curiosity, and courage. The outcome of dialogue does not require agreement, and meaningful relationships can exist even where there are irreconcilable differences. We believe that dialogue around religious difference deepens understanding and is an essential tool for connecting communities.”
While ICJS will make opportunities for small-group dialogues in the coming months, we hope you will first reach out to those within your own circles who are hurting, angry, scared, or grief-stricken.
Although it may feel like a small step, it is an important step to take right now.
Heather Miller Rubens, Ph.D.