October 16, 2019

In Context of Palestine, Old Lyme Church Asks ‘Will There Really be a Morning?’ in Interfaith Program, Sunday


OLD LYME  — The Tree of Life Educational Fund (TOLEF), in its longstanding mission to amplify voices of conscience in support of peace and justice, will open its 2019 Fall Speaker Series on Sunday, Oct. 20, at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme (FCCOL).

Cindy and Craig Corrie

Open to the public, with no admission charge, and interwoven with elements of the FCCOL Sunday worship services at 9 and 11 a.m., and its Adult Forum at 10 a.m., the interfaith program will feature reflections by American human rights activists and Palestinian peace advocates addressing the many challenges that confront Palestinians living under military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The roster of speakers, presenters, and performers will include:

Mark Braverman, a Jewish American with deep family roots in the Holy Land, who serves as executive director of Kairos USA, a movement of U.S. Christians working to end the crisis in Israel/Palestine. He will deliver the sermon at both Sunday worship services.

Mark Braverman

Palestinian youth ambassadors, university students and recent graduates, who will share their visions of a better world, one in whic

h they will enjoy the types of civil liberties enshrined in the U.S. Bill of Rights.

Cindy and Craig Corrie, founders of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, dedicated to the support of grass-roots efforts in pursuit of human rights and social, economic and environmental justice. The Foundation honors the memory of their daughter Rachel, who, in 2003, was run over and killed by an Israeli military-operated bulldozer as she tried to protect a Palestinian home from demolition in Rafah, Gaza. The Corries will participate in the morning worship services and speak at the Adult Forum as well, where they will be joined by the Palestinian Youth Ambassadors.

Music during the morning services will be provided by Tamer Al-Sahouri, head of the Arabic Music department at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine, and his wife, singer Nadine Shomali. Their visit will be Tamar’s fifth and Nadine’s second appearance at Tree of Life programs.

N Shomali and Tal-Sahouri

At the conclusion of the morning events, program participants and attendees will be welcomed in the Fellowship Room of the FCCOL to meet and greet over refreshments, shop for Palestinian crafts and olive oil, and take in the Promised Land exhibit produced by the Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience.

Pausing briefly in organizing this year’s Speaker Series, the Rev. David W. Good, Minister Emeritus of the FCCOL, and Founder of the Tree of Life Educational Fund, commented, “In witnessing the harsh realities Palestinians confront every day in the occupied territories, I can’t help but recall the poignant question with which the poet Emily Dickinson opened one of her particularly haunting poems,  ‘Will there really be a morning?’ ”

He continued, “Here in the U.S., we readily assume that as soon as tomorrow, there will of course be ‘a morning.’ But that easy assumption doesn’t play for those who live under military occupation in the Holy Land, believing that no one cares.

Good concluded, “At TOLEF, we do care. In programs such as this speaker series, we strive to educate others in the sincere hope that one day, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children will play together in the Holy Land, no longer divided, no longer afraid, and no longer wondering if there will ‘really be a morning,” adding wistfully, “How I look forward to that day!”

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