The Words of the Jenkins Family

The Secrets of Jerusalem

Michael Jenkins
August 29, 2007

Dear Family,

Having rabbis from the United States as a core part of the contingent of religious leaders adds a new dimension to the MEPI experience. The rabbis from America know so much about Jerusalem, especially its history, culture, and meaning as a city of peace, sharing such beautiful knowledge and wisdom. Rabbi Ben Ami offered a very beautiful prayer at Gethsemane along with Rev. Mark Abernathy; Yousef Muhammad, a state representative from Alabama, offered a Muslim prayer.

Today at the Western Wall Rabbi Wachman prayed, representing Judaism. Bishop Abu al Asal, former bishop of the Anglican church of Jerusalem, offered the Christian prayer, and Dr. Yousef of the City University of New York, a Muslim scholar, offered the Muslim prayer.

When we went to the Upper Room on our day of visiting holy sites, Rabbi Kranz said, "Dr. Jenkins, maybe we should go a few more steps. Iíve got something to show you." He took us just past the tomb of King David to the original Holocaust museum for Israel. One of the rabbis from the yeshiva that maintains the museum gave a beautiful presentation on the seven laws in the scriptures that non-Jews are accountable to from the Jewish perspective. Rabbi Kranz also gave the morning devotional this morning; it was really the experience of sitting at the feet of a true holy man who understands how to teach, giving much meaning to the root of the Judeo-Christian faiths found in the Hebrew Scriptures. He explained the meaning of Jeru Salem. Salem is like Salaam -- it means peace -- Jerusalem is the city of peace.

This trip has been one of going deeper into the spirit of Israel and understanding better the central importance of the three Abrahamic faiths. Not only are there excellent rabbis here with us, but a number of prominent Muslim leaders came through the work of Imam Dawud Assad, former president of the Council of Mosques of the United States. We have a contingent of religious leaders who are truly spiritual and motivated by the highest respect for one another. Our prayer walk today was one of much meaning; the faith leaders gathered with sincerity, feeling the importance of praying and walking together in a demonstration of unity in the Old City of Jerusalem. This was not just an exercise but is deeply rooted in the whole philosophy of living for the sake of others. We demonstrated our bonds of love for one another as we sang "Peace, Shalom, Salam Aleikum." Through the rabbis and now through the imams and the Christian leaders, we also see through the hearts of believers more deeply

MEPI has expanded to a completely different dimension. Now there are four or five programs going on at the same time each day. A conference was held in Tel Aviv with a number of European members of parliament, former and current prime ministers, and prestigious journalists. The American delegation went to Bethlehem and experienced the Church of the Nativity and then split up in groups of four, going to the homes of 30 different Palestinian Muslim and Christian families for lunch. Our delegates all brought gifts for the children, which makes a beautiful impact on the families.

Last night Rami, a Jewish engineer whoís part of the Bereaved Family Association, once again shared his deeply moving testimony of how he overcame the death of his daughter through working with and loving other Palestinians who lost their children in the conflict. He was joined by his spiritual brother Aziz, who had a similar story. The only way to overcome the pain of their loss was to embrace the pain of the so-called enemy and melt together as one family.

They both testified that the most important thing they experienced that liberates such families in the conflict zone is to listen to each otherís pain. The Bereaved Family Association gave presentations at more than 1,000 schools last year. Many of the Jewish students they addressed had never seen a Palestinian whom they could relate to; many Palestinian students had never seen a Jew whom they could relate to. But they would be touched and moved by a person from the other group who respected them and shared the pain and suffering of both sides.

Our delegation also held dialogues with key Muslim clerics at a time when there is so much need for stability and hope. Key Jewish representatives of various ministries of government gave us the Israeli perspective on the conflict. Most exciting of all is that we are traveling with Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, who has taken on the spiritual mantle of his father to promote the understanding of one family under God. Dr. Moon spent three days going with our Ambassadors for Peace from Israel to visit Galilee, Mt. Carmel, the Druze community, Haifa, Beersheba, Qumran, and Masada to understand the different aspects of the communities of faith in Israel and their history.

This journey has opened up so many discoveries about the Holy Land and its people. God is moving in a mysterious way with MEPI. Our focus is truly centered on bringing people of faith and conscience together as the highest priority. We are realizing more clearly than ever that the inter-religious dimension of peace is the contribution we can truly make. The areas of politics, economics, and others have their importance, and there are capable leaders in those fields that are already doing so many things. But the inter-religious dimension of peace centering on one family under God is an area where we have a unique gift and skill. Deep in the philosophy of MEPI, deep in the understanding of our True Parents, is the idea that there is one God who created Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Truly when we understand that, we can begin to appreciate that ultimately we are going in the same direction. We must recognize that we are one family under God.

It was beautiful to see pastors going to the Dead Sea together, after the mix of briefings and very serious dialogue, being covered with the healing mud of the Dead Sea. I was particularly struck to see the interesting picture of Rev. Mark Abernathy from Georgia and Archbishop Stallings standing next to each other, both covered in mud, looking like twins.

There are many dimensions of the interfaith experience here in the Holy Land. We want to encourage every family and all generations to plan their pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It will revive your soul and give you hope for peace.

Sincerely with Prayer for Peace,


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