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BCO Dharma School Students Call for Permanent Ceasefire in Gaza

Updated: 19 hours ago

Inspired by Courage of Shinran Shonin, Eshinni and Kakushinni


By Joemy Ito-Gates, Melyssa Minamoto, Jun Hamamoto and Daniel Bissonnette

Buddhist Church of Oakland, Dharma School teachers


 

At the Buddhist Church of Oakland’s Dharma School, our students have been learning about the courage of Shinran Shonin and his wife, Eshinni, and their daughter, Kakushinni, who made what some may consider the unpopular or even radical decision for their time to make Buddhism accessible to all people no matter their status in Japanese society. 


As the world has been watching suffering unfold in Palestine and Israel, our Dharma School teaching team felt called as Buddhists, as Japanese Americans, as educators, as parents and grandparents, and by the legacy of Shinran Shonin and his family — to call for peace, to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. 


To that end, our team, along with the compassionate support of our Dharma School families, raised a “Love Demands a Permanent Ceasefire” banner in solidarity with the organization, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity and many other temples, synagogues, and mosques across the Bay Area. 


This past winter, we were humbled to welcome faith leaders from the Christian and Jewish traditions to support our banner raising ceremony and were extremely proud of several of our Dharma School students who felt moved to make speeches inspired by our Jodo Shinshu values in front of our Sangha as part of the ceasefire banner raising ceremony.

 

These are their words:


“Hi! My name is Solina. I'm 9 years old and I'm a student in Dharma School. My family has been part of the Buddhist Church of Oakland for five generations. I wanted to speak today because I wanted the kids in Palestine to not feel alone and I hope they see this banner. There’s a quote I heard from a Palestinian journalist named Wael al Dahdouh that was: ‘We are being killed twice. Once by the bombs and second by the silence.’  I am proud that we are not being silent.

 

“I stand up for people because if it were me, I would be so happy to be stood up for. And the people of Palestine really need people to stand up for them. They need a ceasefire now, but they will only be safe when they are free. And that’s why we say free Palestine. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also talked about silence, saying, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.’

 

“When I was in second grade, I had a best friend who joined an exclusive classroom club called the finger knitting club. The group said I could not join. And my best friend was silent. That made me feel sad and left out. I wished that she had stood up for me.

 

“I'm so impressed by the kids in Palestine who are staying so strong, finding ways to have fun even though it's so scary, and wishing people well across the world. I hope that there's a ceasefire soon so that the people can go home. I'm grateful that people came to this event today and that the other speakers spoke too. Thank you for listening.” 


— Solina Katayama Bissonnette, elementary school student

 

“Hello my name is Jiyo and my name is Tomu. We are students in Dharma School. We believe that the killings in Palestine and Israel are terrible and there should be an immediate and permanent ceasefire. One reason we believe that there should be a ceasefire is that 30,000 citizen lives have been lost. We are glad that the Buddhist Church of Oakland is putting up a banner to support a cease fire so that we can help convince and put pressure on the U.S. government to stop funding the Israeli government’s war. This aligns with our Buddhist value, kindness to all living things. Thank you.” 


— Jiyo Yee Hoshida and Tomu Imai-Hong, middle school students

 

“As Jodo Shinshu Buddhists, we try to embrace the principles of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism daily as we are dedicated to extending support to those enduring struggles beyond our own. We aim to foster compassion and understanding for a world in desperate need. Although the idea of compassion has been instilled in us from a young age, it became extremely personal during this crisis. 


“When I witnessed the images and stories from the conflict, it made me feel the reality of how in my daily routine, it becomes easy to take simple comforts for granted. The privilege of waking up in a home, enjoying ample amounts of hearty food, and having access to education opportunities unknowingly becomes unseen. However, recent events in this conflict have led others, including myself, to collectively step back. We all have to face the devastating reality and realize that at this very moment, individuals in Palestine and Israel, who are the same age as me, your children, and yourself, endure the harsh impacts of this conflict. 


“Through the viewing and reading of this conflict, it became evident how easily people can succumb to prejudice, hindering the ability to wholeheartedly embrace compassion and understand the suffering of others. 


“In following the principles of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, we must commit to continue to fight for a world with compassion in the face of hardship. With this commitment, our voices rise in unity: ceasefire now. Together, let’s stand in our dedication to supporting those enduring hardships in the world around us.” 


— Jordan Kim, high school student


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2 Comments


pricots sistera
pricots sistera
4 days ago

When I was in second grade, I had a best friend who joined an exclusive classroom club called the finger knitting club. geometry dash

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Jun 26

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