While many around the country were celebrating Veterans Day on Sunday, November 11th, an intrepid interfaith band of Tucsonans gathered for the ninth annual Muslim-Jewish PeaceWalk from the Islamic Center of Tucson to Temple Emanu-El. In alternate years, walking from the temple to the masjid the walk is known as the Jewish-Muslim PeaceWalk. This year, no doubt because the event happened to fall on Veterans Day, I was privileged to be invited to speak.
What follows are a few photos from an amazing day. Along the march route we stopped for a rest break at a Christian church, Catalina United Methodist, where, before the walk resumed our Islamic brothers and sisters were obliged to offer their prayers. Unfortunately I didn't get any shots of the Muslim faithful on the lawn of the church, but hopefully the before the PeaceWalk and at the temple photos will convey the sense of genuine non-sectarian brotherhood (and sisterhood, of course).
The Islamic Center of Tucson, located just outside the University of Arizona campus, Here, some of the attendees gather before the first speaker is introduced.
About this time Kossack Northern Lights (left) came over and introduced himself. A long way from his Wasilla, AK home, Northern Lights was basking in the Tucson winter while his wife tended to an ailing family member.
Your diarist required a little help with the microphone from Sat Bir Kaur Khalsa, President of the Coordinating Council of the Culture of Peace Alliance, and a leading member of the Tucson Sikh community.
Rabbi Sam Cohan, senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, lead a prayer from the steps of the Islamic Center before the PeaceWalk.
Sacred Fire Woman (Patricia Lopez), a member of the Yaqui nation, offered a Native American prayer and led those assembled in blessing the Four Winds.
Rabbi Tom Loucheim of Congregation Or Chadash sounded the shofar from the masjid.
And off we went, walking in sunshine behind this beautiful banner.
After reaching Temple Emanu-El Sacred Fire Woman was escorted into the Temple by brother Hassan Clement of the Nonviolence Legacy Project.
When sundown came we were treated to the extraordinary sight of Imam Watheq Alobaidi leading some of the devout in their required prayer from inside a Jewish temple!
Rabbi Sam, ever the gracious host, was kind enough to take pictures for his Muslim brothers with their camera.
Only a few of the more mature women came to the front to join the men in prayer. The young women modestly offered their prayers from a discreet distance.
Rabbi Sam then donned his tallit to lead the Jewish evening prayer.
Finally, in the ecumenical spirit which characterized the entire day, Ajahn Sarayut Amanta, abbot of Wat Buddametta, the Tucson Buddhist Meditation Center, led a Loving Kindness meditation.
As Rabbi Sam made ready to usher the attendees into dinner, a gentleman came to the front and asked to speak. He said his name was Ibrahim, and he was an Egyptian presently teaching in a local high school with an exchange program. Ibrahim's remarks really summed up the day. He told us how he'd genuinely seen diversity at work. How he would go back to Egypt with a renewed sense of how Muslims, Jews, Christians, people of all faiths, could co-exist in Peace.
Ibrahim gets it. So should we.