Topics

Participating Congregations and Organizations
  • American Muslim Voice
  • Bahá'í Community of Palo Alto
  • Beyt Tikkun Synagogue
  • First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) Palo Alto
  • First Evangelical Lutheran Church Palo Alto
  • First Presbyterian Church Palo Alto
  • First United Methodist Church Palo Alto
  • Mountain View Buddhist Temple
  • Palo Alto Buddhist Temple
  • Palo Alto Friends Meeting
  • St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Palo Alto
  • St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Palo Alto (Catholic)
  • Social Action Committee of the Redwood City Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship
  • Trinity Church in Menlo Park (Episcopal)
  • Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
  • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos
  • West Bay Chapter, Buddhist Peace Fellowship

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... and to save one life is to save the whole world

to destroy one life is to destroy the whole world,
and to save one life is to save the whole world

Jewish Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5, and Muslim Qur'an 5:32

As people of faith contemplating the horrendous violence in the Middle East, we are guided by the truth of this fundamental teaching which is found in both the Jewish and Muslim traditions, that to destroy one life is to destroy the whole world, and to save one life is to save the whole world.

We live in the reality of the destruction of thousands of lives in Israel and Gaza. We acknowledge the appalling massacre of 1,200 Israelis by Hamas on October 7, 2023 and the devastating war that has caused a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and has taken the lives of over 34,000 people there. We know that for the loved ones of each and every one of these individuals killed, it may surely be that their whole world is destroyed. With our hearts filled with sorrow and compassion, we say, “Enough!”

It is time for all of us, people of faith and goodwill everywhere, civilians and leaders alike, to embrace and follow the second part of this ancient and true wisdom: to save one life is to save the whole world. Let us, as a global community pledge ourselves to work with all of our being so that instead of destroying life, we can save one life, and then another, and then another, on the quest to save the whole world.

For the sake of both Palestine and Israel, and all human beings involved:

It is time for a ceasefire on both sides.

It is time for the safe release of all hostages and political prisoners.

It is time for the necessities of life – water, food, medical care, fuel, shelter and safety – to be accessible for all.

It is time for a negotiated peace now, with a path for justice, security, democracy and restoration for both sides.

It is time to rebuild the communities destroyed by war.

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May Peaceful Presence: Grief and Hope

Our May 11, 2024 Peaceful Presence was hosted by the Palo Alto Friends Meeting.

All the contributions were very moving, heart-felt and spoken from deep places of love, especially in the midst of war. Here are links to music and videos and a text of a prayer that we can share.

We began and ended with musical excerpts from Karl Jenkins' "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace." 

Eric Sabelman, a Friend (Quaker) shared a poem/prayer he had written in 2004. See "read more" for the words.

Other contributions were offered by Amy Ellberg (Jewish), Samina Sundas and Tehmina Zeb (Muslim) and Donna Baranski-Walker (Quaker).

Samina included this short video of an ABC News story about Dr. Mohammad Subeh, a Palestinian American medical doctor from the south bay who traveled to Gaza recently on a medical mission.

We also watch this video of interview clips of children from the Ramallah Friends School in the West Bank, created in March during a visit there by Quakers from the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

With gratitude to all of those who planned and contributed, let us pray and act for peace.


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ACTION ALERT: Call Congress for Peace in the Middle East!

Call Your Congress Members to Urge Peace in the Middle East!

Emails are great, but it is even more powerful when you follow-up with phone calls. These are easy and quick, and very impactful! (If you feel a bit awkward on the phone, don't worry about it! These are super short calls and the staffers want to know what you think, not how polished you sound!)

Here is a suggested script from MVPJ, but remember to make it personal if you can. (You might add that you come from a particular faith community, OR that as a (parent, sister, brother, etc.) you can't imagine the suffering of family members whose loved ones are held or live in fear, OR you have visited the area, OR you have spiritual or other roots or connections to the region, etc.)

See below for phone numbers for U.S. Senators and Representatives in our area.

Hi, My name is ___________ from (city)_____________.

I am calling to urge Senator _________/Representative ___________ to publicly call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, including the return of Israeli hostages held in Gaza and Palestinians unfairly incarcerated in Israel. 

Right now there is an extremely urgent need for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, and a ceasefire is necessary to get supplies in. I also hope the Senator/Representative will support restoring U.S. funding for UNRWA, the UN agency aiding Palestinian refugees. 

Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace, security, freedom and dignity.

Please encourage Senator _________/Representative ___________ to urge the Administration to use all of its influence to acheive a ceasefire and negotiated solution, for the well-being of all the people in the region. 

Thank you.

(If you don't see them, click "read more" for phone numbers for your calls.)


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Peaceful Presence Gatherings on 11th of Every Month

Monthly Multifaith Prayers for Peace and Justice
7-7:30pm on 11th of every month

NEXT GATHERING:
Thursday, July 11 - hosted by Mountain View-Palo Alto Musalla (Muslim community) 849 Independence Ave., Mountain View

Peaceful Presence is sometimes hosted in-person, sometimes by Zoom, and sometimes hybrid (with both options - to join in person or via Zoom). Watch for updates!

Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice coordinates “Peaceful Presence” gatherings, a monthly prayer service on the evening of the 11th of each month, offering a time of quiet multifaith prayers for peace and justice and strength for the journey. Each gathering is hosted by a different local faith community, includes contributions from diverse faith traditions, and has its own format and theme.

All are welcome: those of all faith traditions and of no defined faith, those who are suffering at the hands of their own government, those who need a pause in the midst of intensive work on behalf of others, and all who would like to pray with others for the well-being of all.  The prayer time will include elements from several religious traditions.


Upcoming
Thursday, July 11 - hosted by Mountain View-Palo Alto Musalla (Muslim community)
849 Independence Ave., Mountain View
Sunday, August 11 - hosted by St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto
Wednesday, September 11 - annual Multifaith Picnic and Prayers, King's Plaza, Palo Alto; hosted by American Muslim Voice Foundation


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Palestinian & Israeli Combatants for Peace: I am with you. I'm going to stay with you.

The American Friends of Combatants for Peace (CfP) shared via email some profound word and experiences of the bi-national (Israeli and Palestinian) Zoom support group this week:

Jamil, CfP’s Palestinian General Coordinator, began the conversation. He looked around the Zoom room at his Israeli friends and shared that it was hard to find the words to express his sorrow, shock, and grief about what Hamas had done.

“I can’t believe this. I am seeing these images, and I don’t want to believe they are real. I cannot hold back my tears. You are my friends, my family.” Other Palestinian activists echoed words of care to Israeli members:

“I am with you. I’m going to stay with you.” 

“I wish I could see you and hold you.”

At the start of the conversation, it was hard not to speak from “sides” about the pain, needs, and remorse for the violence coming from each society. After some time, Yonatan, CfP’s Israeli Executive Director, reflected, “We are talking as if we belong to the extreme parts of our communities, but we belong to each other. We chose each other. We are not our societies; we are humans.


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Prayers for Peace and Responses to war between Israel and Gaza

Words seem inadequate when deeds are so horrific as to defy the ability to string together anything that can ease the pain, lessen the fear, defuse the anger, and move the broken and wounded to doing anything other than striking back. Yet as people of faith committed to peace, we must speak words of compassion and solidarity, aloud and in silent prayer, as well as seek actions that foster healing, justice and peace.

In the face of shocking and deadly attacks by Hamas against civilians in Israel and the Israeli military response to those attacks, adding violence to violence, we grieve for each and every human being lost, wounded, suffering loss, and despairing the coming nights and days of uncertainty and pain.

We pray for the violence to cease and for the world to come together to support all who have been harmed and bring a lasting peace to a land that has suffered too much for too long. Within our own communities and nation, we commit to stand against antisemtic, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim occurence or rhetoric of any kind, and work for relationships of respect, open-heartedness and healing. Although war often leads us to think in terms of "us" and "them," we know from the very nature of our organization, that coming together in the richness of diversity is the only path to peace.

Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice continues steadfast in our work and prayers for peace with justice, most passionately in times of violence, oppression and war.

ACTION: We urge you to join with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quaker-based) in their call to our U.S. government to act to de-escalate the violence. Click here to TAKE ACTION NOW and send a letter to your Senators and Congress Representative. Their website makes this easy, and personalizing the letter can make it even more effective.

Peace with Justice: We affirm these words from Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. "We mourn and we pray for the safety of everyone in harm's way... We know that a true and lasting peace will not be acheived until there is a just, negotiated political solution that protects the human rights of everyone." 

Contribute and Support: Here we highlight a few organizations, mostly led by both Palestinians and Israelis who are working for healing, justice and peace. We offer links for you to consider making donations or supporting in other ways.

Parents Circle - building peace and reconciliation with bereaved Jewish and Palestinian families through dialogue.

Rebuilding Alliance - dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities. Currently their NGO partners in Gaza are delivering food and hygiene supplies.

New Israel Fund - prodemocracy organization in Israel already mobilized with war relief.

UNRWA-UN - relief for Palestinian refugees - is already established in Gaza.

IsraAid - partnering with local and civil society organizations to coordinate humanitarian efforts, providing psychosocial support and urgent aid. International NGO.

Gisha - protecting the freedom of movement for Palestinians, especially in Gaza.

Listen, Learn and Pray: Below are links to various organizations that include Muslim, Jews and Christians, with statements offering their insight and perspectives from their own experience. MVPJ does not advocate any specific statement or response. We offer these with the prayer that we can learn from one another, even when we disagree.


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Vigil for Peace in the Middle East

VIGIL FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

We come together as people of diverse faiths and backgrounds to:
Mourn all who have died
Pray for all who are suffering
Stand with all who are facing hatred
Call out for an end to all the violence
Unite in compassion and peace


Saturday, November 11, 6:30pm
King Plaza, 250 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto

In the spirit of unity and holding fast to our common humanity,
please join us for this peaceful gathering with words, music and prayer.
Coming together in the richness of our diversity is the only path to peace.

We grieve for each and every human being lost, wounded, suffering loss, afraid, and despairing of the coming nights and days of uncertainty and pain.

We pray for the violence to cease, and for the world to come together to support all who have been harmed and to bring a lasting peace to a land that has suffered too much for too long.

Within our own communities and nations, we commit to stand against anti-Semitic, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim incidents or rhetoric of any kind.

As people of faith committed to peace, we gather to speak words of compassion and solidarity, aloud and in silent prayer, and seek actions that foster healing, peace and justice.

 

Please help spread the world! Link and share via Facebook and Instagram

 

Battery candles will be available.
Remember to dress warmly! It can be cold on the plaza in the evenings.


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July Peaceful Presence Contributions

Our July 2023 Peaceful Presence was hosted by the Mountain View/Palo Alto Musalla (Muslim community). The contributions on the themes of patience and hope were rich and varied!

Our host, Farha Andrabi, told the Muslim story of Hajirah, "Hope, Patience and Perseverance: The Story of Hajirah."  (Some of you may know her as "Hagar." However, the story about her in the Muslim tradition has some significant and surprising differences!)

Ellen Stromberg from Congregations Beth Am and Etz Chayim, read excerpts from this piece called "Praciticing Hope" by Rabbi Betsy Forester.

Eric Sabelman told a story that came to him during a Quaker service. He titled the story "The Courier's Message." The images on the left are illustrations connected with Eric's story. 

Kristi Iverson shared some teachings on "Patience," one of the Ten Paramis (or Ten Perfections) from the Buddhist tradition.


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Tell Congress: NO CLUSTER BOMBS!

ACTION ALERT:
Tell Congress: NO CLUSTER BOMBS!!

Cluster bombs are banned internationally by more than 100 countries, yet President Biden says the U.S. will send cluster munitions to Ukraine. Cluster bombs release hundreds to thousands of "bomblets" from the air that spread out over very wide areas. These small bomblets can sit ready to explode -- for decades. Far too often it is when children – thinking they are toys – pick them up - that they explode and rip off limbs of innocent children.


Tell Congress: NO CLUSTER BOMBS!!
Use this ACTION page from
American Friends Service Committee
TODAY!


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MVPJ Stands Against Cluster Bombs

July 17, 2023

Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice’s Steering Committee is compelled to stand with many other Americans and people of faith and goodwill around the world against the President's decision to provide cluster bombs to Ukraine. [1,2]  We find that the arguments given by the President for doing so are based on expediency, flying in the face of universal condemnation of weapons of mass destruction.  To resort to cluster munitions as a "temporary" solution to delayed production of other weapons does not make them less reprehensible. [3]

Major differences exist between cluster munitions and precisely targeted "smart" bombs and artillery shells; cluster bombs are intended to kill over a wide area, and not just a single target.  The claim that only munitions with very low "dud rates" - where unexploded bomblets remain lethal - will be sent to Ukraine is subject to scrutiny, because variations between batches cannot be predicted in advance of use on the battlefield.  Claims that Ukraine would not use these weapons where its own citizens would be endangered and that post-war clearing of landmines and unexploded ordnance is required anyway ignore the change of citizenship in disputed territory and the risk that not all bomblets will be found in time to prevent injury to the innocent.  The argument that Russia has already used cluster munitions is hardly moral justification for the US and its allies to begin using them. [4]

The fact that the US even has large quantities of cluster weapons to give to Ukraine is evidence of American exceptionalism in selective retention of weapons other nations have renounced as morally repugnant - nuclear weapons not least among them. 
Landmines are an example of such rejection of international decisions: despite a UN treaty passed in 1997 [5] the US only in 2022 "aligned" itself with terms of the treaty but still will deploy landmines in Korea [6].  Similarly, in 1997 the US ratified the UN Chemical Weapons Treaty, but only finished destroying its huge stockpile of neuorotoxic bombs and shells this month [7, 8]. It is too coincidental that the White House announced the Ukraine cluster bomb decision and simultaneously proclaimed that the US stock of chemical weapons has been destroyed [9] - as if the latter laundered the ethical stain of the former. 

(click "Read More") for to end of letter. Click here to download a pdf of letter.


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