Everything Has To Do With Us: Roshi Collande Reflects on Bearing Witness at Auschwitz

This November, 2017, Zen Peacemakers are returning to the concentration camp site at Auschwitz for the twenty-second time. Read retreat Spirit Holder Cornelius V. Collande’s reflection on entering Auschwitz’s “big not knowing.”

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Turning Towards Turners Falls: Local Collaboration Serves Underserved Families in Massachusetts USA

Massachusetts USA Zen Peacemakers joined the Montague Catholic Social Ministries group to provide relief for underprivileged families in the Turners Falls area.

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Something to Keep Safe: Georgia von Schlieffen Reflections on Bearing Witness in Bosnia-Herzegovina

German artist Georgia von Schlieffen reflects on participating in the 2017 Zen Peacemakers Bosnia-Herzegovina Bearing Witness retreat, the connections she found between visiting there and Auschwitz-Birkenau and the balancing of pain and beauty.

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The Face I See Everywhere: Why Barbara Wegmüller Returns to Auschwitz

“There is the face of a woman, looking at me, ever since I met her eyes for the first time. She is looking at me on one of the pictures in one of the memorial halls in Auschwitz I, the original camp. The photo shows her as she is waiting with a group of women and her children at the selection site. Her face shows disgust, fear, distress, and she seems to know what will happen to her and her children as she looks into the camera.”

Barbara Wegmüller, a Zen Peacemaker Roshi and Bearing Witness retreat Spiritholder (facilitator), responds to the question of why she’s been coming back to bear witness at Auschwitz for nearly 20 years.

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This Food of Seventy Two Labors, an Invitation to a Bearing Witness Retreat to Food, Land and Racism in the USA

Rev. Ariel Pliskin​, ZPO Minister and founder of Unity Tables​ and community-based Stone Soup Café Greenfield MA​ has participated in several Bearing Witness Retreats on the streets, at Auschwitz, and the Black Hills. He now brings this rich experience to examine the interplay of food, land and race in the USA, in a new retreat he is organizing together with Sensei Francisco Lugovina​ from Hudson River Peacemaker Center-House of One People​, and Leah Penniman from Soul Fire Farm​. Read what led Ariel to co-develop this retreat, and join him in September 2017 on Soul Fire Farm.

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For the Sake of Children: Pilgrimage to Manzanar, Bearing Witness to Fear, Bonds, and Love

“Bearing witness and experiencing the Three Tenets at Manzanar helped me, and gave me the courage, to touch deeper parts of myself. Whatever I saw at Manzanar: family love, family bonding, silence, community, and fear, was about me. It reflected me.” Last month on April 29, 2017, Zen Peacemaker Order member Nem Bajra joined 2,000 others and traveled to Manzanar, one of ten concentration camps that interned Japanese Americans during WWII, to participate in the 48th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage. The following piece details his personal experience of the pilgrimage.

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We Are Sumud, or If You Imagine It, It Will Be

“Sumud, like so many other acts of heartful resistance, begins as an act of the imagination. Someone dares imagine that force, occupation, discrimination, poverty, and violence can end.” Eve Marko reflects on her recent trip to Israel, and acts of imagination and revolution.

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بَحِبِّك This Says I Love You: U.S. Couple Addresses Islamophobia with Dialogue and Artivism

Married U.S. couple and co-founders of the Bahebak Project, Azzam, a Muslim Palestinian, and Anna, a Jewish American, speak about their work transforming fear to love. Through the Bahebak Project, they create grassroots community support networks to provide emergency assistance to Syrian refugees, respond to Islamophobia and Anti-Arab Prejudice with dialogue and artivism, and engage in peace-building across difference in the United States and Middle East.

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Grieving and Praising Together: Lakota Tiokasin Ghosthorse and Roshi Eve Marko on Mystery and Caring for all Relations

Roshi Eve Marko reflects on the wisdom and teachings of Lakota Tiokasin Ghosthorse in relation to Standing Rock, honoring Mother Earth, and the profound mystery of life. Tiokasin Ghosthorse is a Lakota Sundancer from Cheyenne River Reservation; he hosts First Voices Radio, a program that appears on some 70 local public radio stations in this country, and travels all over the world presenting Native consciousness and values.

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Returning to the Three Tenets

  FROM BERNIE: As I look at what’s happening everywhere, the violence in the United States, in Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Europe, I remember that the Three Tenets are not a theoretical thing. I enter a deep state of not-knowing, bearing witness to what’s going on with no judgments or biases, just bearing witness, and then take the action that arises. I invite you, everyone, and especially our members of the Zen Peacemaker Order, to do the same. Then please write comments on this post replying to this question: What actions came up for you going into that space of not knowing and bearing witness? Thank you – Bernie Glassman...

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Myanmar revokes Rohingya voting rights after protests

Rohingya Muslims will not be able to vote in Myanmar’s referendum after the prime minister withdrew temporary voting rights following protests. Hundreds of Buddhists took to the streets following the passage of a law that would allow temporary residents who hold “white papers” to vote. More than one million Rohingya live in Myanmar, but they are not regarded as citizens by the government. In 2012, violence between Muslims and Buddhists left more than 200 dead. The clashes broke out in Rakhine province and sparked religious attacks across the country. The so-called white papers were introduced in 2010 by the former military junta to allow the Rohingya and other minorities to vote in a general election. Analysts suggested the law might have been passed under international pressure The move to annul the rights is seen as surprising given that it was Prime Minister Thein Sein who originally persuaded parliament to grant them. The announcement came just hours after demonstrations in Yangon. Those protesting resent what they see as the integration of non-citizens into the country. “White card holders are not citizens and those who are non-citizens don’t have the right to vote in other countries,” said Shin Thumana, a Buddhist monk who took part in the protest. “This is just a ploy by politicians to win votes.” However, Rohingya MP Shwe Maung, whose constituency is in Rakhine, argued that voting rights had only become an issue following the violence in 2012. Buddhist monks are at the forefront of protests against Muslims. One high profile leader is monk Ashin Wirathu, who recently used abusive language to describe the UN’s special envoy to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Yanghee Lee. In December, the United Nations passed a resolution urging Myanmar to give access to citizenship for the Rohingya, many of whom are classed as...

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Victim Consciousness is a Consciousness of War

“So you are a Moroccan” told me the young Arabic woman in the mourners shade “go back to Morocco! You are not from here!”. We were a group of six people, Jewish, most of us Rabbis, all of us students of our late Rebbe Rabbi Zalman Schakter Shalomi who passed just some days ago. We met in the mourning Shiv’a ritual in Jerusalem that was held by Rabbi Ruth and Michael Kagan for all the students of Reb Zalman. Gabriel Meyer came with the idea to go visit the Abu Hadir family, that their son, Mohamad, was kidnaped last week by Jews from the street in his town Sho’afat, and was burned alive as a revenge for the kidnaping and murdering of the three Jewish kids two weeks before by Palestinians from Hebron. Lisa Naomi Beth Talesnick, who was playing a wedding melody on the harp for Reb Zalman’s Sacred Union with the Divine Light, arranged it through some connections she had with the family through her work place as a teacher in the Arabic high-school. Some of us decided to go. It felt like the right thing to do as a direct line from Reb Zalman’s Shiv’a: doing something we know he would have done if he could. We were escorted in by family members who met us in entrance to Sho’afat. They brought us to the big shade of mourners. A line of mourners was standing there and we went and shook the hand of each of them, expressing our sadness and condolences. The father of the boy stood in the middle. Tall, present man, red eyes, just came back from meeting with Abas in Rammalla. Then we were taken to the women mourners hut. The mother set there, surrounded by other women, family and friends. The noble woman in purple is the mother of Mohamad. “Why did they have to burn him alive?…” We were invited to sit. One of the women started to talk strongly to us in English: “who will protect us now? I am afraid for my own son now!” the fear was real. Just like the fear of parents in the Jewish side of town, yet here it was mixed with the fear from the Israeli police...

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