As Israel wages war, Jews and Muslims in Cape Town show a peaceful way

Interfaith sabbath, Hanukkah and Maghrib services hosted at Claremont Mosque

| By

South African Jews for a Free Palestine hosted their eighth Shabbos against genocide in Palestine at the Claremont Main Road Mosque on Friday night. Photos: Matthew Hirsch

Claremont Main Road Mosque may seem an unlikely place to host a Hanukkah service, but this is exactly what happened on Friday evening.

For the eighth time, South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP) held a “Shabbos against genocide in Palestine” service. This time it also coincided with the second night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Uniquely it was hosted at the Claremont Mosque.

Over 50 Jews, Muslims and Christians came together to hold this interfaith service.

The evening started at about 6:15pm outside the mosque with a Sabbath service that included songs, prayers and poems. A Hanukkah menorah candle with the word “ceasefire” on it was lit.

The menorah is used to hold candles on Hanukkah. The festival lasts eight days. Additional candles are lit on each night. It commemorates the successful Maccabean Revolt in Jerusalem against the Seleucid Empire about 2,200 years ago.

Speeches were made by Anthony Hodgson of SAJFP, Imam Rashied Omar of the Claremont Mosque, and Dean Michael Weeder of the Anglican Church.

At about 7:30pm the group went inside the mosque to host the Muslim Maghrib prayer.

Omar commended those who had gathered for the service. “It is unique in the world. Many things are going wrong in our country, but there are precious things like our interfaith movement that we can offer the world,” he said.

“I don’t think what you are experiencing here will happen easily anywhere else in the world … We should not take it for granted. We should cherish it. We should celebrate it,” Omar said.

Maulana Syed Aftab Haidar said that to have a Jewish service at a mosque was unique. “I don’t know anywhere else other than Cape Town where this is possible. It brings us together.”

Anglican theologian Michael Worsnip said, “If Jews, Christians and Muslims are not standing first for humanity before anything else … then their faith is useless. If we are not standing for humanity, what is the point?”

After the Sabbath and Hanukkah service, the Muslim sunset prayer Maghrib was held inside the mosque.

In a statement prior to the service, the SAJFP said: “We will not allow our Judaism and the memory of our ancestors to be weaponised for further and interlinked genocidal projects. Palestine’s freedom requires an end to Zionism. In turn, genuine safety for Jews is contingent on Palestine’s freedom and equal rights.”

“We aim for our Shabbos service to be a moment to form community and bonds in a time of deep fragmentation and division.”

The SAJFP said there would be another interfaith service in Bo-Kaap on Thursday, the eighth and final night of Hanukkah.

TOPICS:  Israel-Palestine

Next:  Nearly two decades later, Makhaza police station is finally set to open soon

Previous:  Picket against “water apartheid”

Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

One of the many things we can be particularly proud of in our country is the religious tolerance that exists and always has. People of all faiths and denominations get on so well, with few exceptions. Others have tried to stoke hatred for their advantage, but there is no appetite for it in South Africa, and those that try and radicalise us will fail. For that reason, I salute the service of conciliation. It is something we can all be proud of, no matter how closely we hold our faiths and beliefs.

Dear Editor

Thank you to Matthew Hirsch for covering this event. Viva Cape Town! It makes me proud to be a citizen, albeit far away. Things are much more polarised in the UK and the US.

I also want to commend Dean Michael Weeder at St George's Cathedral.

Dear Editor

I am filled with love and hope. I am so pleased, as a Christian, to witness this interfaith movement. Will continue to pray for peace.
What happened in Israel was a brutal attack. However, I am positive that most of the Palestinian people would also condemn it and were not aware of this heinous attack. Israel has restricted Palestinians to a small piece of land under stringent laws. I watch and read every day of the endless bombardment of Palestine. My heart aches for the little children, who are innocent, caught up in this cruel war. Thank you Cape Town that we live side by side respecting our religious beliefs.

Dear Editor

This is one of the most beautiful acts of Humanity shown. Respect and recognition based on Humanity is so precious. This is clearly demonstrated in the honorable conduct of Jews and Muslims together.

It would be extremely encouraging to see more of this throughout the world, so that there would finally be peace in the Middle East.

Once again South Africa demonstrates that unity amongst us all can totally be possible regardless of differences in race, colour, creed.

© 2023 GroundUp. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and GroundUp, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

We put an invisible pixel in the article so that we can count traffic to republishers. All analytics tools are solely on our servers. We do not give our logs to any third party. Logs are deleted after two weeks. We do not use any IP address identifying information except to count regional traffic. We are solely interested in counting hits, not tracking users. If you republish, please do not delete the invisible pixel.