Dr. Ahmad Jaber, I sat next to you in an interfaith dialog circle for several years. “Brother Rami, you are one of us.” Whether it was at your mosque in which you taught and led the prayer, at a church, a synagogue, or your own living room in Bay Ridge, you always welcomed me with a smile. You liked my name, Rami, being a common name in Arabic speaking cultures, and that made me so happy. Your presence and benevolence were at the center of what I loved about living in the culturally mixed city of New York. I will forever remember one Sunday afternoon, nearly 15 years ago at the offices of the Arab American Association of New York.
Over coffee in styrofoam cups and crunchy falafel, I listened to you speak with glistening eyes fixed into the horizon far East, of your memories, and longing, for the Olive trees in the field by your home, in the West Bank of the Jordan River, Palestine. It took me years to truly appreciate the gift you gave me — a vision of hope and belonging. Thank you for your faith, Dr. Jaber. This being the first night of Hanukkah when the smallest light of awareness enlightens the entire universe, right here and now, may Allah bless your family with comfort and ease, and may your spirit shine bright among your proud ancestors.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.