Center for Islamic Pluralism Executive Director Schwartz Visits Israel
Presentation Gift to Yad Vashem
By the Center for Islamic Pluralism
June 12, 2006
In gratitude for the hospitality and sympathy shown to us by our Israeli and other Jewish hosts, the Center for Islamic Pluralism presents a small but, we think, a symbolic gift to the library at Yad Vashem.
The gift is a Jewish daily prayer book or Siddur produced in Cairo in 1943-44. It is pocket sized, bound modestly in contemporary blue cloth, and its pages show the wear and tear associated with pious use. It is in Hebrew and Aramaic with page headings in French and a Latin-alphabet, French pronunciation transcription of Kaddish. Its text follows the Sephardic rite of Judaism. The השדח החנמ רודס [Siddur Minha Hadasha] was printed at the Imprimerie J. Hezkiel in Cairo, with a colophon date of 1943. However, an inserted page at the beginning (reading right to left) states in French that the book was printed as an offering by Victor Ibrahim Hanan in memory of his deceased family members. Victor Ibrahim Hanan himself died on 28 April 1944 (5 Iyar 5704) while the book was still in press.
This prayerbook carries with it a multiple significance for us. Its printing began in a Muslim country, notable in Jewish history, during the darkest period of the Holocaust. It embodies the past and, we hope, future of mutual respect, fruitful cooperation, and sincere friendship between our two communities, both of which share in the truth of the single Creator. We present the השדח החנמ רודס wrapped in a multicolored fabric recalling the coat of many colors for which Yosef, a patriarch of the House of Israel, became known [Genesis 37:3]. We honor the same patriarch as Yusuf, a prophet of Islam, peace be upon him. We recall that Yosef/Yusuf was sold into slavery and taken into Egypt, where the השדח החנמ רודס was printed. As Muslim visitors to Israel we also wish this gift to embody, in however small a way, our shame and apology for the destruction and continuing desecration of the Tomb of Yosef/Yusuf in Nablus, by Arabs misled through extremist ideology.
The השדח החנמ רודס is finally presented in a box covered in calf-skin, handmade in Spain. It therefore commemorates the common Jewish and Muslim experience in many colors, in lands of beloved memory to all of us.
Qur'an 29:46: To the People of the Book, say, we believe in what was revealed to us and was revealed to you, our [Creator] and your [Creator] is one; and to [the Creator] we submit.
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, Executive Director