It’s been said that everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything
Well, seven years of drought in the Holy Land has been so bad
that it has brought together Muslim, Christian and Jewish clerics to offer
prayers for rain.
The rainy season should have begun over a month ago,
but the skies remain blue on this November afternoon. These devout men believe
that now more than ever is the time for divine intervention.
At a spring
named Ein Heniya in the Valley of the Ghosts that separates Jerusalem from the
Bethlehem hills, the clerics gathered on Thursdayafternoon for an unusual prayer session. They decided to put aside their
differences and, as followers of one God, united their prayers for the
“Look up, it’s dry, dry,” said Rabbi Menachem Froman, an
Orthodox rabbi from the Tekoa settlement near Bethlehem, who has close ties with
Palestinian religious leaders.
“Before anything else, to live we need
rain. If there isn’t any rain, there won’t be any Jews or Muslims or Christians
“According to our traditions, the Jewish and the Islam, rain is
due to the deeds of man, and if we make any step of peace between us, perhaps
that will open the treasures of the skies and rain will fall,” Froman told The
The spring is located a few hundred meters from an IDF
checkpoint, and is sort of a no-man’s land. But its location on the fringes of
Israel and the Palestinian Authority have allowed it to serve more as an
everyman’s land, where Jews and Arabs can gather away from the watchful eyes of
the security forces.
Still, there were some who tried to turn the prayer
into a political event. A Palestinian man from the nearby village of Walaje
began yelling that he was being oppressed and occupied when two curious border
policemen stopped by to see what all the fuss was about.
After a quick
word with one of the rabbis, the policemen left and the prayers began.
came here with my Jewish and Muslim brothers to pray that God has mercy on us
and bestows blessings and rain on this holy land,” Rev. Issa Elias Musleh,
spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told The Media
“God willing, our prayers will reach God, who will grant us all our
wishes – for he is capable for changing all things. I hope everyone who supports
peace will take this union of clerics into consideration,” Musleh
After declarations of unity, the three groups broke off to pray
separately. About 20 Jews gathered around a dry pool, where they recited the
special prayer for rain. It is required to fast for the day, if one recited this
Musleh stepped on a large boulder closer to the spring and began
his Christian prayer, his followers nearby.
The Muslims, watching
curiously at the Israelis praying – perhaps seeing this Jewish worship for the
first time – took to higher ground. When the Jewish prayers were over, they
lined up in two rows behind an imam and began their salat al-matar, or rain
“God likes unity, and when people make unity on the earth it is
very good, and Allah likes this kind of life. Allah wants people not to quarrel
with each other because of religion.
Because Allah sent religion to make
peace, not to make war,” Sheikh Abdel Najib, mufti of the Bethlehem area, told
The Media Line. “We hope that God will be happy.”
Amid the throng of
local and international television crews and journalists, American tourist Micah
Rosenblatt watched, enthralled.
“I wanted to be part of something where
everyone is coming together for a common cause, because we all love this land
and we are all a part of it, and so we want to work together to, like, bring
some goodness here, you know,” said Rosenblatt, a Jewish man from Florida who is
staying in Tekoa.
Looking up at the cloudless sky, he wondered: “Who
knows? Maybe the prayers will change something.
You never know. You never
know what can happen,” he said.
Froman said God was looking down from
“I believe that if God sees his children working together, the
heavens will open and not only will rain come down, but so will peace,” Froman
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