In this first week, Krista interviews Yossi Klein Halevi, a New York correspondent for The New Republic and a senior fellow of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. He's an Israeli Jew and the author of "At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land". He was born in the United States, the son of a Holocaust survivor. His father raised him with a memory of the Jewish people as a besieged, pursued, hated people that could never find its place with the rest of humanity. As a teenager, Halevi was briefly an adherent of a Jewish extremist movement and a leader in a militant student group set on freeing Jews held captive in the Soviet Union. He renounced violence as he discovered his spiritual homeland in Israel. He emigrated, began his family in Jerusalem and became a respected journalist, both in Israel and the United States. Halevi had a moving and emotional experience visiting a Sufi mosque in Palestine. Excerpts of what he said:
"I was admitted into Sufi mosques in the Palestinian territories in Gaza and the West Bank, and I went as a religious Jew, as an identified and a visible religious Jew, wearing a kippa, the skullcap, and I was accepted by Sufi Palestinian communities, admitted into the prayer line and into the Sufi dance, the zikr. And there was this moment where I felt I could touch Islam, where I could, in some way, embrace Islam and feel at home in a mosque."
"And for me to learn to overcome my fear of the mosque and to become at home in Muslim devotion was a psychological breakthrough for me and, I feel, a spiritual breakthrough."
"There's just nothing quite like Muslim prayer. And when you're part of that prayer line - and you know that choreography of prayer when you get on your knees and you stand and you bend and you stand again and you prostrate and that repeated - the effect is of a kind of a wave of prayer. And you feel yourself to be this point, this particle in this great wave of prayer and you just join this extraordinary wave that's just always there and always will be there. That's a gift that I received from Islam. And that's something that I have to remind myself even when I'm being politically realistic and hard."
It's a great interview. Please click here to listen/read about it.
Perhaps people can post their views on it. Next week I shall InshaAllah post parts of the interview with the Palestinan Muslim. While you are visiting the Speaking of Faith website, perhaps you may want to listen to their previous interviews and discussions. There are excellent interviews with Professor Vincent Cornell, Khaled Abou Fadl, etc.