JERUSALEM (JTA) – Jewish and Muslim religious leaders prayed together for the recovery of a 4-year-old boy severely burned in a firebomb attack that killed his 18-month-old brother.
The rabbis and imams prayed Monday outside the Pediatric Critical Care Unit at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, where Ahmed Dawabsha is being treated. His parents are also being treated at the medical centre near Tel Aviv for burns over most of their bodies.
The gathering of religious leaders was an initiative of former Israeli government minister Rabbi Michael Melchior together with Rabbi Rafi Feurstein and Rabbi David Stav of the Tzohar rabbinical organization. The group was joined by senior members of the Islamic Movement including Sheik Abdullah Nimar Darwish as well as Rabbi Aryeh Stern, the chief rabbi of Jerusalem.
The initiative began with a conversation on the need for strong condemnation from both sides of terror incidents and for enhanced interreligious dialogue beyond times of crisis, Tzohar said in a statement.
Feurstein, co-founder of Tzohar, described the initiative as a means to “jointly condemn an evil act of murder of an innocent child.” Stern reiterated that it must be understood that such acts “will never be allowed to represent any legitimate expression of religion.”
Darwish said the attack should be used as a catalyst to create a covenant of all religious leaders against terror and in the name of peace.
Stav told the clerics: “We must act with ultimate responsibility to reach our younger generation and teach them that even when we might not agree with another’s opinion, that never gives us the ability to physically attack or God forbid kill.”
The clerics also met with the grandfather of Ahmed and Ali Saad, the baby who was killed in the attack early Friday morning while he was sleeping. The grandfather has been keeping a vigil over his grandson, son and daughter-in-law since the attack in a West Bank Palestinian village.
On Sunday night, some 150 Israelis were joined by rabbis, lawmakers and two local Palestinian residents and peace activists for a prayer session and vigil for the Dawabsha family at the Gush Etzion junction, where three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped more than a year ago and killed.
“Burning a baby to death is the lowest possible act, and we will not remain silent,” said Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid at the vigil. “We state clearly – this is not what our God wants.”