Peace Islands Institute

Jan 21st
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What Does Holy Land Mean to Me?

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The Temple Neve Shalom in Metuchen hosted the Peace Islands Institute in an Abraham's Table on December 6th 2011 in the evening. The topic discussed was "What Does the Holy Land Mean to Me", which is a topic that may bring members of three faiths togerther rather than alienate them. Each speaker shared their own perspective on the topic. Q&A followed the discussion. It was a wonderful evening well spent, we thank Rabbi Gerald Zelizer for making this wonderful event possible. Food and refresments were also provided by Temple Neve Shalom. New friends were made on this unforgettable evening


Rabbi Gerald Zelizer, Temple Neve Shalom in Metuchen

Rev. Jeff Markay, United Methodist Church, Caldwell

Dr. Levent Koc, Peace Islands Institute

Below is very brief summary of the speeches. Two newspapers made a lengthy stroy of the program. Please click the following links to read them: "Toward Understanding" on The Courier News, "Three faiths consider connection to singular land" on New Jersey Jewish News.


Rabbi Gerald Zelizer

"Jerusalem is significant to the Jews because of the promise from God that the land has been given to the Jews from the very beginning of creation,” Zelizer said. “It was God’s promise of giving the land to the children of Israel in the future. But according to the Bible, God also refers to it in the past tense: To your seed I gave the land of Israel to your progeny.”

Zelizer also talked the prayer that refers to returning to the Holy Land, which is recited every Sabbath and three times each day.

“The prayer in which we say, ‘Praise art thou, oh Lord, who blesses the land and the food,’ ends with the words, ‘Next year in Jerusalem,’ ” said Zelizer.

He concluded by saying “Mohammed, Prophet of Muslims said to the Jews that they should return to Israel, and in Chapter 9 of Romans, Paul makes the startling statement that all of God’s promises to the Jews are still valid” .

Rev. Jeff Markay

Markay spoke about his expericne when he traveled to Jerusalem: “I was moved by the idea that so many people of faith walked upon its ground and had a relationship with its soil,” Markay said. “And some believe that Jesus was born, lived and died — within its confines.” Markay also spoke about the challenges of modern Christians, which he sees as the quest to discover a mature Christianity, one that doesn’t want the world only its way — one that recognizes the validity of other faiths and traditions.

Dr. Levent Koc

Dr. Koc said the Holy Land of Jerusalem represents a challenge to live together in peace in a particular place. “It’s the religious capital for all Abrahamic religions,”. Koc said, based on his interpretation of the Islam faith, that all prophets are equal. “We are really a continuation of one very long tradition in which God sent prophets at different times throughout history,”. He said that throughout the history of the Muslim religion, there was a brief period of time Jerusalem enjoyed peace, and he believes it will return again. He also quoted from "A World without Islam" by Graham E. Fuller that "Arab sources reported that when Caliph Umar conquested Jerusalem he helped clean out the abandoned Jewish Temple Mount and prayed there, later ordering a mosque to be built in the south corner (p.85). Jews were allowed to practice Judaism in the city for the first time since their expulsion by the Romans some five hundred years ago (p.101).

Pictures from the event:

Rabbi Gerald Zelizer

Rev. Jeff Markay

Dr. Levent Koc





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