A religious orthodox Jewish reader living in Jerusalem writes …

A reader writes:

I hope this e-mail finds you well.
My name is xxx and I am a religious Orthodox Jew who was born in South Africa but currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel.
I have recently completed your book “Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?” I feel obligated to express the positive effect your book had on my religious life. I admire your courage and bravery to take a real critical view of your religion and to try bring your religion back to its roots, its essence. I wish we had a Rabbi courageous enough to try and bring Judaism back to its essence…
I don’t know if you are aware but this morning there was a terrible incident where four Jews were murdered while praying. The past couple weeks have been very intense and hard for both Jews and Arabs…
I noticed in your book that you are very critical about Israel, but putting that aside, I remember that in your book you talked about how after 9/11 you coordinated an inter-faith meeting. I feel that something like this is needed now in Israel!!
I am very active in various community organizations and non-profits and I would like to organize a meeting between young Jews and young Arabs, a healthy forum where we will be able to meet each other and have a open and healthy discussion. I don’t believe we will come out agreeing with each other, that is not the point. I do hope that both sides would be able to come out being more understanding and caring…
The reason I write to you, is that I wanted to know if you know a Imam, non-profit, community or any organization of Arabs living in Israel, who would be prepared to participate in such a meeting?
It goes without saying that the setting of the meeting would need to be in a matter where both parties feel comfortable. I am prepared to take this project on, it is the true Jewish response!
Thank you very much and hoping you will be able to help me improve the Israel Arab conflict, even just a bit…

Thanks so much for writing. I am critical of both Israeli and Palestinian voices for violence and injustice – and I am deeply supportive of people like you who want to do the hard and good work of peacemaking and reconciliation. You’re right – it is the true Jewish response, and I applaud you for it.
Each act of hate, violence, or revenge – whether the victims are Israelis or Arabs, whether they’re Jews, Muslims, or Christians – violates the essence of each religion, and causes people of compassion to mourn. With each report of new atrocities, some step closer to resignation and despair, while others draw new determination to work for peace. It is clear you are among the latter, thanks be to God!
I have met many Israeli Jews, Christian Palestinians, and Muslim Palestinians who share your desire to work for peace. Perhaps Palestinians Christians (with the right spirit and attitude) can be good brokers to bring together Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims. Two groups that I would encourage you to contact in this regard would be
I know they would share your desire to build relationships, and that they have good relationships with many groups of Arabs living both in Palestine and Israel …
You should also know the work of my American Jewish friend Mark Braverman, and another outspoken Jewish friend in England who blogs at Micah’s Paradigm Shift. They represent the kind of courage you are calling for.
Do let me know what transpires, OK? I’m praying for you, your beautiful land, and a year of fruitful peacemaking in 2015!