To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,
I live in Israel since 2007 and since then I always felt and I feel until now to be a guest. In every country I've lived in, in the jobs I've held, I've always done my best to be welcoming... when I was a teacher, towards my pupils; when I was a volunteer in an international community welcoming and making thousands of young people from all over the world feel at home and now that I'm a monk and a priest, in welcoming every life that needs care, guidance and consolation. The value of hospitality is very dear to me.
“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt”. (Deuteronomy 10, 18-19).
The Jewish Scriptures elaborate a real "right of the foreigner", where it is clear that the concern and care for the foreigner become a structural element, integrated in the Israelite society. God attested by the Bible visits Abraham and pushes him to become a stranger and a pilgrim … Lekh Lekha! God himself visits Israel in Egypt, when he is a stranger and cries out his pain.
Israel knows what it means to be an ethnic minority, to be marginal: it was their life situation under the iron fist of the pharaoh! Adonai made himself known to Israel in Egypt as God of the without rights, God of the emigrants, God of the gherim. For this "knowledge" experienced when he was gher, Israel is called, in the land that is not his but Adonai's, to promote the life of the immigrant foreigner. Precisely through this defense and promotion, Israel confesses its faith in the Lord as go'el, as redeemer, and therefore, exploiting immigrants, for Israel, means giving oneself over to idolatry, taking away from God his right of redemption.
I hope this is not forgotten by anyone in this country, a place called to be welcoming for everyone who comes to search for a house and a shelter.
Ft. Alberto Joan Pari is a Catholic priest and a Franciscan monk, belonging to the Custody of Holy Land, living and serving in Jerusalem.
He is originally from the north of Italy but has lived in Israel for 16 years. He is responsible for interfaith dialogue for the Custody, teaches Biblical Hebrew and Judaism in the Catholic University in Jerusalem, is a friend of the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community and of Kehilat Zion. Ft Alberto Joan is also a musician, directing a music school where Christians, Muslims and Jews study together and is part of a music project to give voice and music to the ancient piyutim (liturgical poems) of the Jewish Italian communities, who lived and prayed in Italy during the Renaissance and Baroque periods.