British Jews last night broke a one-day Tammuz fast in solidarity with Muslims fasting in the month of Ramadan, as rabbis, students, activists and everyone in between lined up to call for peace in Israel.
The initiative at JW3, dubbed ‘Hungry for Peace’ after its hashtag, came amid the Gaza operation, which has seen hundreds of Palestinians killed and over a thousand rockets fired from the coastal enclave.
The original idea of Jews and Muslims joining together in an organised fast came in a visit of Israelis and Palestinians to the home of the family of the murdered teenager Naftali Frankel.
“As an Anglo-Jew who feels helpless in this terrible conflict,” said Barnet resident Holly Kal-Weiss. “This is one way I can show my support for a lasting peace.”
Tuesday’s fast marked the 17th Tammuz, the fast of Tisha B’Av, an annual fast day in Judaism which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of the Jews from Israel.
This year it also falls during Ramadan, a month during which observant Muslims fast for 30 days during daylight hours.
“This day of fasting is not just for Jews and Muslims,” said Rabbi Lerner, the editor of Tikkun, a progressive Jewish interfaith magazine. “We say yes to peace, reconciliation and non-violence.”
Orthodox, Reform and Liberal rabbis from across the country lined up in support of the initiative.
“It’s purpose is to send a message that many British Jewish supporters of Israel want to loudly and clearly call for de-escalation, a return of calm, a return to the negotiating table and the creation of two states for two peoples,” said Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi from Birmingham. “The only way that can guarantee stability and security in the long run.
However, some communal bodies declined to back it. In a statement, the Board of Deputies said: “This is not the type campaign on which we would take a position.”
Hannah Weisfeld, director of Yachad, said: “We must remain steadfast in our commitment to a peace that will guarantee both Israelis and Palestinians self-determination, safety and security.”