In Featured at HBT, lifeatholyblossom

Thank you!

By Rabbi Yael Splansky.

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…

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.

Watch the story unfold via Twitter

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Showing 7 comments
  • Michaele-Sue Goldblatt

    Rabbi Splansky, How wonderful and meaningful it was that you were invited to speak at the mosque.

  • Gay and Gerry Lokash

    Leadership may be “pure” and leadership may hide other agendas. The Ring of Peace demonstration, led by Rabbi Splansky, presented the “purest” form of Leadership.

    Thank you, Rabbi, for pursuing this thoughtful initiative: it has, undoubtedly, advanced a meaningful relationship with the Muslim community in Toronto.

  • Ruth Ehrlich

    We are away and were unable to attend The Ring of Peace. As a very long-standing member of Holy Blossom Temple I continue to be grateful and proud to be part of our congregation. Under your leadership Holy Blossom has truly “blossomed.”
    Love Ruth Ehrlich

  • michael diamond

    I was unable to attend due to a family matter that could not be moved, or I would have been there. I was very moved by your account of the experience, and in particular absolutely delighted that you were invited to speak in the mosque. Too bad all of what you wrote was not covered in the media- it was so good and Canadian and Jewish (and Muslim!).. Well done! Very proud….

  • Lindi Rivers

    Although bitterly cold, I didn’t feel it, not just because I was dressed for it, but because the warmth generated by the outpouring of compassion, concern, and commitment among the participants was strong and sustaining. The appreciation and gratitude from many worshipers at the Imdadul Islamic Centre was evident; Muslims, Jews and Christians humbly and sincerely creating a bridge to one another. May we continue building and learning together.

  • Helen Cameron

    Hello! Having just watched Rabbi Yael Splansky on CBC around 12.00 noon, I want to commend her and all those who formed part of the “Rings of Peace” around mosques in our city of Toronto. Had I known, I would have been out there with you! I’m a Catholic nun whose only outreach to people of the Muslim faith has been by talking to all the Muslim taxi drivers who help me get around the city, telling them how much the Quebec mosque attacks have saddened and upset me. I honestly don’t know how else to help improve interfaith relations in this country except by talking to Muslims, one by one. We are all sisters and brothers in our various faiths, both as children of the same God, and in our common shared citizenship as Canadians.

    Thanks for your wonderful witness as women and men of faith and compassion! Peace be with you!
    (Sr.) Helen Cameron

  • Nadeem Shirazi

    Dear Rabbi Splansky and Rabbi Grover:

    I am so moved by your kind gesture,love and warmth that you and your group displayed today around different mosques in Toronto.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    On behalf of the entire Muslim community, I thank you and I thank all Canadians who were so generous with their love and affection. Please pass on a big thank you to your congregations.
    We are all one and the same, and how can we be different when we are all from the same creator.

    I would love to come by and meet with you and give you a BIG HUG!

    In the words of Rumi …“Yesterday is gone and its tale told. Today new seeds are growing.”

    As your brother, I am and will be at your service whenever you need me.

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