On Friday we stood for Jewish values and Canadian values. We put our prayers into motion. And we held true to our promise to be, as we have always been, a congregation that leads others in compassion and courage.
Seven Rings of Peace were created around seven mosques across the Greater Toronto Area. Hundreds joined hands in common cause to show Muslim Canadians that they and their sanctuaries are protected from violence and hatred. Rings of Peace spontaneously grew across five other Canadian cities and is still growing beyond our borders now. It is a simple act, but the impact has been profound.
So many people came that we were able to create an entire Ring of Peace around the Imdadul Islamic Centre. And then we did what Jews do — the circle started to move like a hora and there were quiet songs of peace. Oseh Shalom and Sim Shalom and Od Yavo Shalom.
I was not at all surprised by the response of our congregation. But I was proud. Some parents took their children out of school to teach a lesson for a lifetime. Older congregants made great physical efforts in order to participate. It was cold, but as one leader of the mosque said: “Our hearts were warm.”
One moment did surprise me — a spontaneous invitation to address the congregation.
I took off my shoes and covered my hair with my scarf. Hundreds of men sat shoulder to shoulder on the floor. The women were gathered behind a wall at the back. I brought expressions of condolences, spoke of how blessed we are to live in this good country which provides and protects religious freedom for all, and I asked that when we leave the sanctuary, we leave ready to put our prayers of hope and peace into action by getting to know our neighbours and co-workers and by teaching our children to be compassionate and generous to others, no matter who “the other” may be. Only after I left the sanctuary was I told this was the first time a woman (let alone a Jew) was ever invited to address the congregation.
When the prayers were over and the worshippers came out from the mosque we saw the gratitude on their faces. We stood outside the doors and greeted them with songs of “Salaam.” They will not forget this expression of solidarity and kindness. And neither will we.
Kol HaKavod to those who joined in the Ring of Peace, a true mitzvah. Please share your own reflections/photos/videos below in the comment section or at [email protected] on what you saw, learned, experienced on Friday here.
Links to Media Coverage
Below is a short listing of some of the media coverage we received…
- CTV VIDEO (Noon): Symbolic ‘ring of peace’
- CTV VIDEO (Evening): Symbolic ‘ring of peace’
- CITYTV VIDEO: Interfaith groups to form ‘rings of peace’ around mosques in Canada
- CBC: GTA mosques surrounded by ‘rings of peace’ from members of all faiths
- Huffington Post: ‘Rings Of Peace’ Surround Canada’s Mosques In Wake Of Deadly Attack
- The Gaurdian: Canadians form ‘rings of peace’ around mosques after Quebec shooting
- The Star: In wake of Quebec mosque attack comes amazing gesture with rings of peace: Paradkar
- The Times of Israel: After massacre, Canadian Jews form ‘rings of peace’ around mosques
- CTV: Interfaith groups to form ‘rings of peace’ around mosques in Canada today
- The Algemeiner: Canadian Rabbi Leads ‘Ring of Peace’ Around Toronto Mosques to Express Solidarity With Quebec Shooting Victims
- The CJN: FIVE WAYS JEWS CAN COUNTER TODAY’S INJUSTICE
- Toronto Life: Random acts of peacemaking
Ring of Peace Photo Gallery
Thank you to the many photographers that contributed to the photos below, including Dr. Harvey Schipper, and the Associated Press.