The Times of Israel article on the issuing of this postal stamp in Belgium does not do this picture justice. Let me tell you the real story… Or the one that I know anyway.
Chief Rabbi Guigui (the man on the left) told me his story last year and I shall repeat it here.
In 2001, he was walking through Anderlecht and was attacked by a gang: he was badly hit and the youths hurled insults at him in Arabic before being rescued by a friend. Instead of getting angry, never returning to Anderlecht or battening down the hatches he decided to engage.
He formed a very special relationship with Imam Abdullah Dahdouh who had a mosque in Anderlecht. The imam became the first Muslim cleric to be invited into a synagogue in Belgium and the Chief Rabbi and him became close friends forming a strong and public relationship until the Imam was murdered in his Mosque two years ago by Salafist extremists.
Both Guigui and Dahdouh wanted to create a better Brussels and better Jewish-Muslim relations is a city that has seen violence. Guigui told me this story on a panel last year… Remembering his friend he became ever so slightly tearful: “I was attacked, yes, but my friend the Imam was killed… that’s why I cant stop. That’s why this work is so important”…
Amen to that.
The Jewish Festival season culminates this week with Simchas Torah, the Rejoicing of the Law. This festival, which follows weeks of reflection, penitence and some serious praying is fun and even a little frivolous as Jews mark the day we finish the annual cycle of reading from the Torah and start again afresh by reading the creation narrative in Genesis by dancing and singing with the Torah scrolls. (more…)