Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Promise is a Promise

Originally posted at thejewsoflebanon.org on December 21, 2007 @ 2:35 am ·
Filed under

Introduction by Site Administrator: On November 25, pictures were posted of a Jewish cemetery in the historic port city of Sidon, located in southern Lebanon. We receive hundreds of daily visitors to the site, but it was not a coincidence that Isaac Levy, a Lebanese living abroad, would see the tomb of his father for the first time in 22 years… on the screen of a computer monitor.

We launched this project not through calculation but through conviction, a dialogue over the blog was carried out, and the innocent wishes of Isaac were realized- Fadi (original photographer) once again visited the site and placed flowers on Isaac’s father’s tomb, reciting a prayer, and once again exemplifying the Lebanon we believe in; Lebanon the message of religious tolerance and coexistence. Was it that both of these men shared stories of their fathers, whose bodies are buried in the bosom of the earth in distant lands that brought them together? This bittersweet and emotional story was carried out between two men who never even met each other, who know no more than the first name and email address of the other, to an audience of like-minded people from across the globe who abide to an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole.
The original pictures and the corresponding dialogue where this was discovered:
Please Click Here

Now, we present to you the new photographs where Isaac’s father was honored, where Fadi showcases the beauty which is the essence of man. Fadi’s accompanying letter to Isaac and the world:

A promise is a promise. It’s a joyous season, the holidays of the 3 monotheistic religions of our country fall in a 21 day period. Hanukkah, Adha, and Christmas. On the second day of Eid, I packed the camera, and paid a second visit to the very windy and wet Cemetery to recite the Fatiha for Isaac’s dad – in lieu of my own father.

I made it, no climbing this time. The stormy weather was the perfect chance to get closer to the collapsing western side of the cemetery. Better still, I could drive the car right to the front entrance of the cemetery this time.

The tombs of Isaac’s family are not difficult to spot, but the name engravings are not there. I recited three Fatihas, took the photos, and felt a warm sense of satisfaction. Perhaps far away, in the western coast of Africa, my dad would rest in peace, and just maybe, someone would pass by one day and recite a prayer so he may rest in peace.

Peace, such a word we miss. Internal peace, such an emotion we lack. We have so much in common, the same air we breathe, the same soil the holds us together eventually. Good and love are indivisible, and there is plenty of them to keep everyone content. Why can’t we realize that? One day I came over a very interesting verse from the Quran – a very “non-denominational” verse! A verse that gave me, least of all, the answer I sought.

Say We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. [Quran - 002.136]

If it is religion that separates us, then it is the wrong religion. If it is politics that bring us apart, then it is the wrong politics. If it is anything else, let us reach out and hold each other closer.
In this small beautiful mad country that we call home, we have 18 different denominations; the last and only country in this region to maintain plurality, but at a very hefty price. In this season of celebration of the many faiths, we should be keen to first, realize that we have so much in common, faith wise, country wise, life wise. We have so much to lose if we are off-guard for one second. In this season of holiness, we should realize that Forgiveness is the true path to inner peace. In this season of holiness, when the whole world is turning mad with feuds, with hatred, with wars, with walls and landmines, with religious (sic) segregations, separatism, we are truly blessed, but most of us do not realize it. Some of us who already do have a huge mission.
On the drive back home, I realized that Gibran Tueini (Slain Lebanese journalist, his original oath,
click here) in his oath missed an integral part of our society, a wandering lost part of Lebanon - Lebanese Jews! So I took the liberty to rephrase it:

We pledge by God, Muslims, Christians and Jews, to stay united, forever and ever, to defend our great Lebanon, Long Live You! Long live Lebanon!

A belated Happy Hanukkah, Happy Adha, Happy Christmas!

It is a pledge a few of us, soon to grow in number, to preserve our plurality, and to be the defenders of our brothers’ and sisters’ memories and places until their return.

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