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Jews, centuries-old enemies of Muslims, still draw the disparaging term fox, with its connotations of evil: stealth, thievery, cunning, and wanton killing. However, twenty-six year old Mohammed al Samawi from Yemen has published The Fox Hunt – A Refugee’s Memoir of Coming to America (2018), and through this experience, tweaked this pejorative.

Raised in Sanna, Yemen, by strict Shiite parents, Mohammed excelled in his studies, a compensation for his stroke-damaged limbs, caused when an infant. Computer skills enhanced his academic pursuits that were colored by the imams’ interpretation of the Koran; their authority was never questioned.

However in 2012, Mohammed’s beliefs were shaken when one of his professors at the Canadian Institute offered him an English bible. Shocked by its revelation of God’s compassion that also filled the pages of the Koran, he shunted his career toward international business and set out to locate a Jew while working for the NGO, Partner Aid. A year-long hunt, in secret, ensued, until he bonded with Daniel Pincus, also attending the Muslim Jewish Conference in Bosnia. There, he also met like-minded peers, intent upon creating dialogues with warring factions in their Middle Eastern countries.

However by 2015, Mohammed’s passion for peacemaking precipitated death threats on his personal cell.

It was Daniel Pincus and others on social media who helped Mohammed escape from the flames of the Shia-Sunni civil war raging near his fourth floor apartment. For thirteen harrowing days, holed up in his bathroom, he prayed and responded to emails of his own Justice Corps.

Thus Daniel became the fox as depicted in the parable ascribed to the Jewish scholar Rabbi Akiva in second-century Caesarea, with which the author concludes this riveting memoir of transformation.

 

 

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How formulate words around the life of Elie Wiesel (1928 – 2016) who, in dialog with his God, fully individuated himself within the warp and woof of his global community? Left a legacy of printed words that still fire imaginations and challenge the moral fiber of his readers?

Such is the task I set myself after completing Elie Wiesel’s second memoir,And The Sea is Never Full, 1969 -1999.

His lifelong study of the Torah and the Talmud imbued his witness, his writing, and his teaching in lecture halls and international venues. Like Jeremiah of the Old Testament, he was passionate, fully sensitive to the worlds within and around him. Words, written and later spoken, became his métier. Yet silence obliterated any foray into his death camp experiences: they remained inexpressible: referred to as “it.” Yet, paradoxically, “it” fueled his rich imagination with stories and assuaged his psychic wound. Those privy to his spiritual depths relished his unique vision: living with unanswered questions before the silence of God.

In his memoir, Wiesel also reproduced parts of significant dialogs and lectures that reveal the breath of his wisdom and his attunement to his listeners. Dreams of his deceased family, in italics, also showed his respect for his unconscious, ever guiding him toward wholeness. He was also not without wry humor in his admission of foibles. So beneath this world citizen lived a simple man of passion who loved being husband to Marion and father to Elisha.

Yet Elie Wiesel’s witness to hatred, under the guise of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and fanaticism, still flourishes—but not to worry. He has passed the baton on to us, with its imperative to root out such vestiges within our psyches. There is hope.

 

 

 

It all began on the chartered buses. Sizzling energy loosed introductions, stories, and prayer among the protesters, traveling from St. Louis, Missouri, to Washington, D.C. One of them was a ninety-four-old widow, supported by two canes, who had attended all the Marches for Life since their inception in 1974. The Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion in Roe vs. Wade still irks many.

The morning began with Mass at the downtown Holy Rosary Catholic Church, followed by the cafeteria-style-breakfast in a nearby government building. It would be a rigorous day. Brilliant sunshine spirited the protesters’ steps toward meetings with their Missouri Representatives and later with their senators.

Rallied in front of a large screen at the National Mall, the protesters then thrilled with warm remarks from President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Three others also spoke from the main stage.

Then an estimated half-million protesters began the long march down Constitution Avenue toward the Supreme Court building. Singing, praying, bands playing, banners and placards waving, they made their way—a moral force to be reckoned with.

Synchronistically, that very day, the House passed a bill ordering abortionists to provide medical care to babies should they survive. An observer was heard to say: “I guess this is some kind of progress, but look what our country’s come to. Like slavery in the South—Like if the master failed to kill his slave but then was legally compelled to tend his wounds—Amounts to the same thing.”

The impact of the day quieted the protesters as they returned to St. Louis. They would never forget.

 

 

Available on Amazon

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