A group of interfaith activists comprising both Muslims and Jews came together in London for a tree-planting ceremony. This heartwarming event took place on a Friday, with Londoners putting aside the tensions rippling from conflicts in the Middle East to make a powerful statement of togetherness and hope.
Rabbi Natan Levy’s Inspiring Words
Rabbi Natan Levy, the head of operations at the Strengthening Faiths Institution, shared his thoughts on this extraordinary gathering. He emphasized the pressures faced by Jews and Muslims engaged in interfaith work during these trying times. He said, “There have been pressures on some of us, both Jews and Muslims, not to do interfaith work at this time. But if we don’t speak, the voices of division will.”
Commemorating Leonie Lewis through Trees
The group planted 15 trees in Dulwich to commemorate the late co-chair of the Faiths Forum for London, Leonie Lewis, who passed away the previous year. These trees are not only a tribute to her memory but also a commitment to create a greener London. The interfaith group plans to plant a total of 100 trees across the capital in her honor.
Overcoming Political Differences for Unity
Rabbi Levy candidly acknowledged the political differences that sometimes create a divide between him and his Muslim friends. He said, “It’s difficult to talk to my Muslim friends at the moment because our political views are so very different and opinions so deeply divided.” However, he emphasized that the rise in incidents targeting women wearing hijabs in their neighborhoods made it even more crucial to stand together.
Planting Seeds of Change
Rabbi Levy expressed his optimism, saying that by planting these trees alongside imams, priests, and people of different faiths, a small seed of change is being sown. He believes this change is desperately needed in today’s world, marred by divisions and misunderstandings.
Mustafa Feld’s Vision of Unity
Mustafa Feld, the director of Faiths Forum for London and a Muslim himself, highlighted the significance of these trees. He believed that they would create a space for gathering together and overcoming differences, not just for the present generation but also for their children. These trees will stand as a living testament to the power of unity in protecting the environment, caring for neighborhoods, and working towards the greater good.
Combating Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia
Mustafa Feld also spoke of the rising incidents of anti-Semitic attacks, expressing concern for the Jewish community. He stressed that while a few trees in the ground may not completely eradicate hatred, it would show both communities how effective they can be when working together. This message of unity serves as a powerful counterpoint to the bigotry that has been on the rise.
Tribute to Leonie Lewis
Howard Lewis, the husband of the late Leonie Lewis, shared his thoughts on the event. He described his wife as a passionate supporter of interfaith dialogue and a dedicated member of the Faiths Forum for London. She worked tirelessly to ensure that people of all faiths could talk to each other in peace and harmony. He mentioned that she loved trees, and this project organized by FFL would serve as a lasting tribute to her memory, preserving her legacy into the future.
In a world often marked by division and discord, the story of Jews and Muslims uniting for a greener London shines as a beacon of hope. It reminds people that even in challenging times, when political views may differ, there is a common ground they can stand on. Through this tree-planting ceremony, these brave individuals have shown that unity and love can indeed conquer hatred and division, offering a glimpse of a brighter and more united future.