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PAGE 18A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 26, 2010 I Rabbis, imams and priests pray for end of 7-year drought in Holy Land Arieh O'Sullivan The Media Line It's been said that ev- eryone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it, Well, seven years of drought in the Holy Land "has been so bad that it brought to- gether Muslim, Christian and Jewish clerics to offer prayers for rain. The rainy season should have begun over a month ago, but the skies remain blue on this November afternoon. In a land that has seen much bloodshed and no few miracles, these devout believe that now more than ever is the time for divine intervention. At a spring called Ein Cheniya in the Valley of the Ghosts that separates Jerusalem from the Beth- lehem hills, the clerics gathered recently for an unusual prayer session. They decided to put aside their religious differences and as followers of one God united their prayers for the much needed rain. "Look up, it's dry, dry," said Rabbi Menachem Fro- man, an Orthodox rabbi, who has close ties with Pal- estinian religious leaders. "Before anything else, to live we need rain. If there isn't any rain, there won't be any Jews or Muslims or Christians here." . "According to our tradi- tions, the Jewish and the Islam, rain is due to the deeds of man and if we make any step of peace between us, perhaps that will open the treasures of the skies and rain will fall," Froman told The Media Line. Thespring is a few hun- dred meters from an Israeli military checkpoint and is sort of a no man's land. But its location on the fringes of Israel and the Palestinian Authority have allowed it to serve more as an everyman's land where Jews and Arabs can gather away from the watchful eyes of the security forces. We pray foi water, for water, for water, for life. There is a long prayer that we are screaming cry- ing for God to give water, to give life. Still, there were some who tried to turn the prayer into a political event. One Palestinian man from the nearby village of Walaje began yelling that he was being oppressed and occupied when two curious Israeli Border Police stopped by to see what all the fuss was about. After a quick word with one of the rabbis the policemen left and the prayers began. "I came here with my Jewish and Muslim broth- ers to pray that God has mercy on us and bestows blessings and rain on this holy land," the Rev. Issa Elias Musleh, spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told The Media Line. "God willing our prayers will reach God, who will grant us all our wishes for he is capable for changing all things. I hope everyone who supports peace will take this union of cler- ics into consideration." he said. After declarations of unity, the three groups broke off to pray separate- ly. About 20 Jews gathered around a dry pool where they recited the special prayer for rain. It is re- quired to fast for the day, if one recited this prayer. At this point, Musleh stepped upon a large boul- der closer to the spring and began his Christian prayer, his followers nearby. The Muslims, watching curiously at the Israelis praying perhaps seeing this Jewish worship for the first time--took to a higher ground. When the Jewish prayers were over, they lined up in two rows behind an imam and began their special salat el matar, or rain prayer. "God likes unity and when people make unity on the earth it is very good and Allah likes this kind of life. Allah wants people not to quarrel with each other because of religion. Because Allah sent. reli- gion to make peace, not to make war," said Sheik Abdel Najib, mufti of the Bethlehem area. "We hope that God will be happy." Amid the throng of local and international television crews and jour- nalists, American tourist Micah Rosenblatt watched enthralled. "I wanted to be part of somethingwhere everyone is coming together for a commoncause because we The family of Sophia Davis Enjoy Beef Brisket Zena Sulkes leads Jewish Discussion Weekly Jewish Conversation with Zena Sulkes Weekly Happy Hour hosted by The Jewish Pavilion Monthly Shabbat Service Monthly Bagels and l_ox Luncheon Special CelebraUons and Meals during High Holy Holidays Mah Jongg Games Weekly Visiting Jewish Chaplain and Volunteers from The Jewish Pavilion Offering Assisted Living, Rehabilitation Care and Skilled Nursing Where Hospitality is Truly a Way of Life! 1301 W. Maitland Blvd. ,, - Maitland, FL 32751 (Located one block from I-4, near the Jewish Community Center) 407-645-3990 www.SavannahCou rtMaitland.com Assisted Living Facility License No. 8447, Skilled Nursing Facility .1635096 Join us for Matzah Ball Soup Representatives of different religions got together to pray for rain in the Holy Land. They are, from left: Sheik Abdel Najib, the Rev. Issa Elias Musleh, a Christian cleric and Rabbi Menachem Froman. all love this land and we community of Tekoa near Froman said God was are all a part of it, and so Bethlehem. looking down from above. we want to work together Looking up at the cloud- "I believe that if God to like bring some good- less sky, he wondered, sees his children working ness here you know," said "Who knows? Maybe the together the heavens will Rosenblatt, a Jewish man prayers will change something, open and not only will from Florida, who cur- Youneverknow.Youneverknow rain come down but so will rently lives in the Israeli what can happen," he said. peace' Froman said. Actor riffs on Judaism with a Memphis beat By Robert Wiener New Jersey Jewish News He can turn Torah into theater, make use of his childhood as a Jew from Tennessee and even create a fanciful work called "Elvis Does Chanukah." Many of Jonathan Adam Ross' creations were on display Nov. 12-13, when the actor-playwright served as scholar-in-residence at Congregation Beth El in South Orange, N.J. His grand finale was that Saturday at 7:30 p.m., when he performed his one-man show, "Walking in Memphis: The Life of a Southern Jew.' t "It's about growing up Jewish in Memphis, ' he said. "A lot of people hear 'a Jew from Memphis; that's going to be exotic.' But by the end of it, hopefully, they Will sense that this story is universal. I wouldn't char- acterize it as a Jewish play." But the work is clearly autobiographical. "If you're growing up a Jew in New York or New Jersey, you're not a mi- nority. There are plenty of kosher re'staurants and plenty of shuls to go to. You don't have to try so hard," Ross said. "In Memphis you have to ship in kosher meat and you are definitely a minority. Not that there is anti-Semitism--I never experienced anti- Semitism in Memphis." But there were moments. "I used to wear a chai around my neck, and a kid asked me why I was wearing a cow. I got upset. Courtesy of Jonathan Adam Ross Jonathan Adam Ross on stage in "Walking in Memphis: The Life of a Southern Jew." Then I looked down at my neck and realized it totally looked like a cow. How was he to know it was a Hebrew letter?" Ross grew up in a Con- servative Jewish home and attended public schools be- fore leaving his hometown to study acting at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He began his acting ca- reer way before then, how- ever--on thestage of his local JCC at the age of five. "I performed in a Cha- nukah play and I haven't stopped since," he said. "I did not set out to make Jewish theater; I set out to make great theater. It just so happens that I'm from a Jewish background, so the theater I create tends to be somewhat Jewish in nature." His "Elvis Does Chanukah"--a work com- missioned by the Solomon Schechter Day School of Memphis--was an adapta- tion of Presley's songs for a holiday play and includes such titles as "Heartbreak Kotei." Although he does not consider himself to be a musician, music plays a role in his presentations. In such works as "Walking in Memphis," Ross sings and accompanies himself, t'm an actor who happens to play piano," he said. "I do a lot of songs from my child- hood. Because I'm from Memphis, I love the blues, and I also love Motown." A|though he performs most of his work on com- mercial stages, Ross said he enjoys performing in religious and community venues as well. Robert Wiener is a staff writer for the New Jersey Jewish News from which this article was reprinted by permission.