Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups join together for ’21 for 21′ interfaith collaboration

religionChristian, Muslim and Jewish groups have joined together to celebrate the way young people are promoting interfaith collaboration.

In a world first, three media outlets serving the three Abrahamic faiths have joined forces to set up the 21 for 21 project, which is aimed at finding “21 leaders for the 21st century”.

The project is looking for 21 young people who have made a significant difference to understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths.

“There is a widely held perception that faith communities in this country and elsewhere are in constant conflict. I think that’s actually not the case,” Justin Cohen, the news editor at Jewish News who set up the project, told The Independent.

He said although there were examples of spikes in community tension, “particularly at times of conflict in the Middle East”, overall relations between communities in the UK are “a beacon, an example, for other communities in other countries”.

The project, he said, was “an example and a way of highlighting that as well as celebrating young people who are the future of interfaith understanding and cooperation in the UK.”

The 21 young people – seven Christians, seven Muslims and seven Jews – will be chosen from a range of nominees.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT (UK)

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El Ghriba offers rare example of religious tolerance for Muslims, Christians and Jews

musjewThe island of Djerba is just off Tunisia’s southern shore, 294km from Tripoli. Yet the peace that prevails in Djerba is as far from the mayhem of the Libyan capital as can be imagined. So is the very peaceful relationship maintained by the approximately 1,000 Jews who live there with their Muslim neighbours.

Even more unusual in a Middle East where wounded identities clash daily, often unleashing bloody mayhem, millions of refugees and failed states, the annual pilgrimage to El Ghriba involves the happy mingling of Jews and Muslims.

It was the case again this year, as citizens of Djerba came to share the celebration of the annual festival with their Jewish neighbours.

El Ghriba synagogue was, legend says, founded after the destruction of King Solomon’s temple in 586BC. It is more likely, however, that it was founded after the second destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70AD. A Jewish necropolis in Gammarth, near Carthage, attests to the presence of Jews in Tunisia half a millennium before Christ in what was then the thriving capital of a Phoenician empire which spanned the western Mediterranean. The Talmud mentions several Carthaginian rabbis.

Persecution against the Jews and other Christian minorities followed the legalisation of Christianity by the Roman Empire by the edict of Milan in 313 and Byzantine rule in North Africa in the sixth century. During the 1,400 years of Muslim rule in Tunisia and more broadly in North Africa, relations between Jews and Muslims seesawed but never were Jews treated with the callousness shown to them by European Christians in the 13th century or during the 20th century.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MIDDLE EAST ONLINE

A Priest, a Rabbi, and an Imam Walk Into a Church in Dallas

interfaith-panel-2-677x451Amid a vexed political and social climate, three religious leaders in North Texas—a priest, an imam, and a rabbi—proved it’s possible to come together in times of division. The Rev. Dr. Chris Girata, Imam Omar Suleiman, and Rabbi David Stern gathered at Saint Michael and All Angels Church in Dallas last Thursday to discuss where their respective faiths diverge, and where they unite. The panel discussion, presented by the Women of Saint Michael and moderated by the Rev. Amy Heller, drew in people of all backgrounds.

The three panelists, who talked like old pals, helped facilitate a light-hearted environment. As religious leaders they have met before on more somber occasions. Suleiman and Stern, for example, both spoke at a vigil at Thanks-Giving Square following the shooting of Dallas police officers in July 2016. It was refreshing to see these men converse candidly, in more relaxed circumstances. The solidarity shown by the priest, imam, and rabbi enlightened and inspired many of the hundreds of people gathered at the church.

Sandra Klingeman, who has belonged to an interfaith group for a number of years and attended the discussion, said she has heard the three leaders speak before, and knew they were among the best faces of each of their religions.

“I think I learned more about their relationship with each other and their sense of humor about this,” Kingeman said. “Because, you know, I don’t know all of the details of Islam or Judaism but I have friends in all of them.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM DALLAS MAGAZINE 

Some think interfaith dialogue goes nowhere. A veteran rabbi begs to differ.

web-RNS-CHABIN-KRONISH-100317-690x450Ron Kronish, an American-born rabbi in Israel, has devoted much of his life to dialogue among Jews, Muslims and Christians. His new book discusses the merits of dialogue. He says, the Vatican’s increasingly warm relations with Israel, for example, were rooted not only in diplomatic moves but 35 years of “systemic and substantive progress in Jewish-Catholic relations” fostered by hard-working priests and rabbis.

JERUSALEM – In Israel, when a rabbi, a priest and an imam walk into a room, it’s not a joke begging for a punchline.It’s an opportunity for the clerics to find some common ground and engage in peace building in an often-violent region, says Ron Kronish, an American-born rabbi who has devoted much of his life to interreligious peace building in Israel.

To Kronish, who has a new book out – “The Other Peace Process: Interreligious Dialogue, a View from Jerusalem” – the purpose of interfaith dialogue “isn’t to solve the peace process.”

Rather, said the Reform rabbi, it has defused many a tense situation.

“Our role isn’t political. There are tens of seminars and think tanks working on solving the political peace process,” said Kronish, 71, during an interview in Jerusalem, which he has called home for 38 years.

“It’s not kumbaya, saying nice things about others’ religions. It’s painful and people wince a little, but an atmosphere is created where you can say what bothers you, and there is compassion and caring.”

Over time, Kronish said, “you learn to live with one another, to understand other cultures. Our mission is to keep the hope for peace alive by creating real human relationships.”

In his new book, Kronish relates how ongoing, substantive meetings between faith leaders have fostered better relations on both the grass-roots and national levels.

The Vatican’s increasingly warm relations with Israel, for example, were rooted not only in diplomatic moves but 35 years of “systemic and substantive progress in Jewish-Catholic relations” fostered by hard-working priests and rabbis.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUX 

Cardinal joins interfaith leaders in ‘Faith Over Fear’ walk to promote unity

walk-1-webCardinal Donald Wuerl joined Washington-area religious leaders Dec. 18 in leading an interfaith walk that organizers said was designed “to express our solidarity and our commitment to unity, understanding, and inclusion.”

The interfaith pilgrimage walk, dubbed “Faith Over Fear: Choosing Unity Over Extremism,” began at Washington Hebrew Congregation in Northwest Washington, and included stops at the National Cathedral and the Islamic Center. At each site, there was a call to prayer, a scripture reading, and a brief reflection.

“We leaders are united in our concern at the rise in hate speech, the increase in violence against racial, ethnic and religious minorities, and the ugly consequences that ensue when people’s actions are informed by inflammatory rhetoric, misinformation and careless slander,” Cardinal Wuerl said, reading from a statement at the beginning of the walk.

Also participating in the walk were the Right Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, senior rabbi of Washington Hebrew Congregation; Imam Johari Abdul Malik of Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center; and about 200 others who came to pray and show solidarity with people of other faiths.

“We share the Abrahamic faith,” Bishop Curry said, “and the challenge before us is – out of our great diversity – to make a real tapestry.”

Cardinal Wuerl also lead the participants in reciting the prayer of St. Francis. Prior to leading the prayer, he told the gathering that during Pope Francis’s Sept. 22-24, 2015 visit to Washington, the pope “walked our streets and reminded us we have the power to make a better world – but we have to reach out to one another.”

Bishop Budde, also noting that “we belong to different branches of the Abrahamic family,” urged the participants to “come together to create a climate in which we practice hospitality, protect those who are vulnerable, defend religious freedom, engage in respectful dialogue about our disagreements, and love one another regardless of our differences.”

She added that “all have a welcome place in our land.”

Rabbi Lustig echoed that sentiment and said participants must strive to keep “America a place where people of all faiths are welcome.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC STANDARD 

Jews, Muslims support Christian neighbors

christmasVolunteering on Christmas day brings a double reward for Nancy Welber-Barr of West Bloomfield.

Not only is she receiving the joy of giving back on Mitzvah Day, a community-wide day of volunteering, she also receives the gift of giving back.

“It’s a real bonus. I like to be able to help other people, and I also get the chance to help people enjoy their holidays,” she said.

Sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Mitzvah Day combines efforts of local volunteers who step in to help local charities on the holiday and provide the opportunity for Christian volunteers to take the day off to celebrate the tradition of Christmas.

“It’s a chance to give Christians a chance to celebrate without feeling like they have neglected their volunteering duties,” Barr said.

The Jewish community has been sponsoring Mitzvah Day in the Metro Detroit area for some 20 years and this is the fourth year that area Muslims will join with them in an effort to relieve their Christian neighbors of their volunteer responsibilities on Christmas.

FULL ARTICLE FROM OBSERVER AND ECCENTRIC