An Urgent Message of Pikuach Nefesh from Reb Zalman and Rabbi David Zaslow

Dear Friends:

I want to ask each of you to please support Reb David Zaslow’s fundraising effort to bring a very special Sheikh to the United States. His life is truly on the line at this time simply because he has the courage to work with Jews.  This is not a partisan political issue, but it is humanitarian imperative. Eve and I have also made a donation ourselves, and I am asking you to do so as well.

For those of you who are congregational rabbis and are able to raise additional funds from members of the congregation please do so as quickly as possible. This project is not about debating the language of the resolution. Rather, it is forcing us to put our money where our mouths are.

Let us do so quickly.

B’shalom, Reb Zalman

Dear Hevre:

I am writing this appeal on behalf of some of my dear rabbinic colleagues  Deb Kolodney, Yitz Husbands-Hankin, and Jonathan Seidel, and with the blessing and support of Reb Zalman and Eliyahu McLean.

I have delayed writing this urgent appeal because of the potentially negative consequences that my language might inadvertently create. But I can delay no longer! In consultation with Reb Zalman and Eve Ilsen we agreed that not mentioning specific names and locations would be the safest way to proceed for the parties involved. Please contact me personally at if you would like more detailed information.

Some of you who are involved in Jewish/Islamic interfaith peace work will undoubtedly recognize the person I’m referring to. Here I will call him Sheikh Daoud. If you recognize him I suggest that you don’t mention his actual name in any public e-mails, or public postings that you might make. After an article came out recently in a prominent Israeli newspaper about his interfaith work, the threats against him have gained momentum. When I say that this appeal is a matter of “pikuach nefesh” it is not just my personal assessment but the assessment of our friend Eliyhau in Israel.

I AM ASKING/APPEALING/BEGGING FOR SMALL AND LARGE TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS. Let our haver Eliyahu McLean explain. Following is of a composite of two letters Eliyahu wrote to me:

“Sheikh Daoud and his family are under threat. Its a matter of pikuach nefesh, and saving tzadikei umot ha’olam. Daoud has gone to battle to teach tolerance and inclusiveness in Islam in Israel, to welcome Jews into his home, and he and family are paying a heavy price. We are seeking support to bring Sheikh Daoud and his family to the United States for a period of several years. Daoud, as the leader of moderate Islam and interfaith work in Israel, has been under attack for years by the hardline Muslim groups in Israel, and the Holy Land, that oppose his approach. The attacks have increased recently. Since Daoud and his family are in danger we hope you can support him and his family to leave [his West Bank town] and come to the USA.”

From a first hand account I was told that the militants first came to Sheikh Daoud and offered him hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash if he stopped working with Jews. He refused. The threats went from verbal harassment to physical attacks. The Sheikh is mostly in hiding with his family. There is no option here to write a grant, to appeal to friendly mosques for aid, or to enlist the Palestinian police.  We are it – every member of the Jewish Renewal community who has a stake in peace. Our shul now has a restricted fund called the “Rescue Fund” and 100% of what we raise will go to support the Sheikh and his family.

Send in a personal, tax deductible donation of whatever you can. Our goal is to get more than $50,000 as quickly as possible to bring Sheikh Daoud and his family here. The following is very a very understated letter written the Sheikh himself for us:

“The thinking that is behind our desire to come to the States is to take a break from the stress and the dangers that stand against us, to redirect our energies from the labors that we are engaged in day and night, which has been to advance the cause of Peace and Religious Understanding in the Holy Land and in the World which has in turn brought us dangers and challenges – especially the most recent challenges that have beset my family in the recent period.   And this includes the challenge of losing parnasah.  And this distracts from life and makes it ever so more oppressive. We find that we can’t progress or advance our lives under such conditions… And thus I ask for help from all my friends in the United States.”

Here is the plan:

1) We are looking to bring the Sheikh to the U.S. and to enroll him in an institution of higher learning that has been identified where he can complete a graduate degree. We hope to get him a scholarship  so he can complete his Phd. For this we need cash of $4,000 immediately.

2) Once the Sheikh checks out the scene here, and with the assistance of his stateside ties  he will bring his wife and children here.

3) The $50,000+ that we raise will be administered wisely (G-d willing!) by myself and Jonathan Seidel. It will be to get his family settled in the U.S. for a year until he gets secure (travel for him and his whole family, moving expenses, getting a used car, rental and security deposits, rent and basic food for a year, etc)

WILL YOU STAND UP AND BE COUNTED? WILL YOU MAKE A PERSONAL PLEDGE? Personal checks can be made out to and mailed to:

Havurah Shir Hadash
P.O. Box 1262
Ashland, Oregon 97520

Mark “Rescue Fund” in the memo line.

You may also donate via Paypal at
Scroll down to the “Donate Now” button and be sure to write “Rescue Fund” in the memo line.

Let’s save a life.

B’shalom, Rabbi David Zaslow