Several Pittsburgh Jews are expected to participate in PeaceweeeK [sic], a local effort from Aug. 5 to 14, to encourage support for peace among people from many different backgrounds.
The week will culminate with a “Gathering of Hands” celebration — the second such celebration this year — Sunday, Aug. 14, 7 p.m., at the Schenley Oval, in the meadow next to the ice rink.
Allen Goodman, a local organizer of PeaceweeeK, said activity is meant promote civil dialogue among Jews and non-Jews alike.
“There’s no political agenda,” he said. “You can still disagree with people have arguments, but will you take a stand for peace? There’s no political agenda at all.”
Peaceweeek is being promoted as “10 Days to expand the spiral of peace and to encourage peaceful dialogue, civil discussion and celebration on our beloved planet Earth.”
“If we can have dialogue without anger,” he added, “we’re on our way.”
Participants will be celebrating in a variety of different ways, some of which are public forums on the environment, global warning, government spending and deficits, the Middle East, the marriage and abortion questions and charged local issues, parties, nature walks and community service.
A list of all PeaceweeeK activities is being compiled at Hlqholistic.org, but new particpants may email Goodman at firstname.lastname@example.org with new activities.
Though PeaceweeeK is a local activity, the interest it has garnered from around the world has surprised Goodman.
“I have gotten responses from Germany, Japan, Afghanistan, California — like crazy — Ireland and England. He said. It goes on and on with no end to it — just on Facebook alone. With Facebook it’s a global event that quick.”
Kevin May, who is organizing the Aug. 14 “Peaceful Gathering of Hands,” in which people come together every hour on the hour to join hands, says he hopes to double the participation for this event, which was held earlier this year — May 21.
“Our largest circle was 500 people,” he said of the May 21 gathering. “I would say there was a wide spectrum of people there and at our next event we would really believe there will be many more people — probably double our last event.”
He sees PeaceweeeK and the Gathering of Hands less as symbolic gestures and more as human exercises to improve peaceful discourse.
“I like to think of peace as a verb and not as a noun,” said May. “[In] a constant practice of kindness and respect for diversity, basically treating your neighbor like you want to be treated.”
“We’re trying to make a more peaceful and healthy and sustainable city,” he added. “We’re inviting people to come and have a tent and have some sustainable activity.”
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at email@example.com.)