Monday, January 5, 2009

A Report from a Sunday Vigil, Providence, RI

In addition to the indoor Prayer Service at Temple Emanuel, there was a presence outside as well.

The following is a description from Susanne Hoder of the Interfaith Peace Initiative:
Dear friends,

Tonight's vigil was a wonderful success. We had about 50 people standing on two sides of the street up and considerably away from the Temple entrance, but still within view. We were mostly silent, except for the occasional singing of Truth Shall Overcome (to the tune of "We shall overcome"), and Peace, Shalom, Salaam. This was mostly as people were coming and leaving. None of this could have been heard in the service.

The signs were not confrontational or accusing, but were reminders that peace requires justice for all. AFSC members provided many of them. Some others said "End All Occupations," Support the UN Call for Cease-fire, etc. Four large cardboard signs with letters in foil that said GAZA caught the light of passing cars and TV cameras. Thanks to the Almonds and Eileen Sheehan, there were plenty of candles.

There were almost as many police at the temple as there were demonstrators across the way, and they were very cordial and helpful. The turnout for the service seemed smaller than expected.

People of many faiths stood with us tonight. I think we showed that there is nothing anti-Semitic or anti-Israel about opposing the Israeli offensive in Gaza and the occupation. One man came out of the Temple service and walked over to shake our hands. Again, silently, with no dialogue, but with mutual respect.

In interviews with ABC 6 News, Martha Yager and others made the point that this was about what was happening to the people of Gaza, and said groups at the vigil were concerned with a just peace for all the people of the region. At the end of its report at 11, ABC's reporter said it was clear both groups shared the goal of peace.

Without our presence there, the TV cameras would have only showed Rhode Islanders expressing solidarity with Israel. This way, they showed that there were also Rhode Islanders standing for a just peace, opposing Israel's actions and mourning the tremendous loss of life in Gaza as well as those killed in Israel.

Thanks to all who made this possible.

Susanne Hoder

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