Rabbis start fast for Gaza

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An ad hoc group of rabbis is organizing a monthly communal fast to protest Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Called Ta’anit Tzedek — Jewish Fast for Gaza, the water-only fast will take place on the third Thursday of every month from sunrise to sunset, with the first fast scheduled for July 16. Participants also are being asked sign onto a statement at the group’s Web site and donate money they save on food to the Milk for Preschoolers Campaign sponsored by American Near Eastern Refugee Aid, a campaign fighting malnutrition among Gazan preschool children.

The 13 rabbis behind the fast — led by Rabbis Brian Walt, former executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and Brant Rosen of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill. — said that the project is based in Jewish tradition, in which "a communal fast is held in times of crisis both as an expression of mourning and a call to repentance."

Organizers said the fast has four goals: calling for a lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which has been in place since Hamas’ electoral victory in early 2006; providing humanitarian and development aid to the people of Gaza; calling on Israel, the United States and the international community to negotiate with Hamas to end the blockade; and urging the U.S. government to "vigorously engage both Israelis and Palestinans toward a just and peacful settlement of the conflict."

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