TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2003 -- 3 Adar1 5763
In News: News Story
Together In Prayer
“It was an amazing moment to see leaders of the Islamic and Jewish communities praying together for peace, tolerance and the safety to freely practice their faith in America and in the rest of the world,” said the Rev. Rodney Reinhart of St. Martha’s Episcopal Church in Detroit, who founded the World Sabbath in 2000.
“This is a time when rabbis and imams and people of the Jewish and Muslim faiths have many difficult bridges to cross [and] the World Sabbath provided that bridge. Their words provided us all with the hope that peace, reconciliation and interfaith fellowship are not an impossible dream, but a very achievable dream in which we all must come to share.”
Optimistic that the service will add hope to promoting peace among Arabs and Jews was Arnold Michlin of Waterford, who was the recipient of the World Sabbath’s first Peacemaker Award in 2000. “This program makes me feel more confident about the situation in the Middle East,” he said. “I stand by the people-to-people method of building bridges.”
Cantor Stephen Dubov of Congregation Chaye Olam sang “Oseh Shalom,” a song of peace, at the Jan. 25 program. While “the event was not specifically focused on a Jewish-Arab quest for peace,” said the cantor, “it was a statement that we are all humanity.
“We were all there for the same purpose, to promote world peace — Jews and non-Jews, people of all faiths, sharing this part of world history together. Let’s find more ways we are alike, instead of focusing on our differences. Programs like these help bring that ideal to the forefront.”
“The day had been tense with talk of war, of press speculation that the tensions of the moment would spill over into the service,” said the Rev. Edward Mullins of Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, who hosted the event.
Rev. Mullins asked speakers to sign a release acknowledging the use of religious words and symbols of various faiths as being acceptable, in an attempt to temper potential outbursts.
In the end, he said, “The prayers were honest and heartfelt, the speeches were well thought-out and reasoned and the music was powerful yet uplifting.
“Truly, people of different faiths with different opinions about their God and the human condition can come together in peace, speak freely without rancor and share together in food and fellowship and prayers.”
While Rev. Reinhart says the World Sabbath was originally established as an American-based response to religious persecution and war in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, it is now observed as an international day of building religious tolerance, interfaith understanding and peace.
Speakers included Rabbi Daniel Syme of Temple Beth El, Muslim leader Najah Bazzy and Dr. Felix Rogers, head of the Cranbrook Peace Foundation.
“We weep for those who have died,” Rabbi Syme told worshippers. “We reach out our hands to one another for solace, and we do so with the hope and prayer that the God we worship will enable all of the hands to touch in blessing.”
Judaism “instructs us to rodef shalom, to pursue peace,” he added. “It’s not enough to talk. It’s not enough to teach. We have to do something.”
“This is not only a service of prayer but a gathering of resolution.”
Event planners included Rabbi Herbert Yoskowitz of Adat Shalom Synagogue and interfaith activist Brenda Rosenberg of Bloomfield Hills.
Other participants in the service were Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini of the Islamc Center of America in Detroit and Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, head of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, along with leaders from the Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Bahai communities.
Choirs from Christ Church Cranbrook and Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield performed; as did the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Sudanese drumming dancing choir from Lansing, a group formed mostly by those who fled religious persecution in their homeland.
“If religious leaders in the Middle East would come together in a World Sabbath Service of Reconciliation,” said Rev. Mullins, “and if they told the political leaders at that service to wise up, shape up or get out, and if the good folks in the Middle East who want to get on with their lives were not interfered with by the political power brokers, then there just might be some peace in the troubled Middle East.
“The people there are wonderful human beings who deserve peace and not war. Perhaps worship can make up where politics has failed.”
©Copyright 2003, Detroit Jewish News (MI, USA)
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