This week’s parsha is Lech Lecha. This is a story about Abraham and Sarah travelling to Egypt and back to Canaan.The main theme of the story is Abraham’s loyalty to God. After acquiring wealth in Egypt and saving his nephew from kidnap, Abraham returns to Canaan and is offered the famous covenant that has tied the Jewish people to God for generations. Despite the strange nature of Abraham’s contract with God, (circumcision for a people) Abraham exemplifies the virtue of loyalty. A virtue we should all strive to maintain in our lives.
After being promised a “great nation” the parasha then follows a childless Abraham’s marriage to Hagar. Together they had “Ishmael”, who is one of the most significant figures in Islam, buried next to the holiest site in the religion at Mecca.
This detail is often forgotten when we discuss Muslim and Jewish relationships. Abraham or ‘Ibrahim’ is a symbol of Muslim-Jewish commonality, of cohesion. However, too often is our rhetoric based around our differences. When i reflect about both Jewish and Muslim communities in England, this narrative of similarity appears to have been forgotten. It seems to me that our communities are as separated as ever and there is no shared history or culture felt between us.
Perhaps we should take this example and use it as inspiration to celebrate our similarities and bring us closer as community and as individuals. We should use this to create a more peaceful environment for us all to live.