One day every month, from sunrise to sunset, members of Ta’anit Tzedek—Jewish Fast for Gaza, a self described “ad-hoc” initiative of over 100 rabbis and other faith leaders from all over the U.S., go on a political diet. They fast, refraining from eating or drinking anything except water, to raise awareness about Israel’s blockade of Gaza, a blockade they consider unjust.
“As Jews and people of conscience, we can no longer stand idly by Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people in Gaza,” says a message on fastforgaza.net, the group’s website.
Local rabbinical supporters of Jewish Fast for Gaza include Rabbi Leonard Beerman of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles and Rabbi Steven Jacobs, rabbi emeritus of Temple Kol Tikvah in the San Fernando Valley.
The group fasts on the third Thursday of each month, and so the group’s members fasted today on Thursday, June 17. The first fast took place almost one year ago, on July 16, 2009.
Following the Israeli navy’s recent deadly raid of the Mavi Marmara, Rabbi Brant Rosen, the Illinois-based project coordinator at Jewish Fast for Gaza, criticized Israel’s handling of the flotilla and the country’s maritime blockade of Gaza.
We “call upon the government of Israel to turn away from the policies of occupation, siege and indifference to international law,” Rosen wrote in a blog post on the group’s site.
According to the website, the Jewish Fast for Gaza operates with four main goals in mind:
1. To call for a lifting of the blockade that prevents the entry of civilian goods and services into Gaza;
2. To provide humanitarian and developmental aid to the people of Gaza;
3. To call upon Israel, the US, and the international community to engage in negotiations without pre-conditions with all relevant Palestinian parties - including Hamas - in order to end the blockade;
4. To encourage the American government to vigorously engage both Israelis and Palestinians toward a just and peaceful settlement of the conflict.
The group’s next fast is scheduled for July 15, 2010.