Extending Spirits: The Value Of Interfaith Activity
Rabbi Bill S. Tepper
Only one person was at first created, so that none should say to her or his fellow human being: ‘my ancestor is greater than your ancestor.’
Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5
As a student rabbi, my initial experience in leadership unfolded in a church in a small Indiana community, generously lent to the congregation I was serving in the understanding that the congregation had no physical home of its own.
In the years since my ordination, I have visited – in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Winnipeg, Manitoba, among other locales – churches and mosques many times: to address worshippers as guest-clergy, teach Bible, serve on social justice panels, and accompany my congregational youth and adult members in the name of experiential education.
As well, I have been privileged to have my clergy colleagues of other faiths speak from my own pulpit: for U.S. Thanksgiving, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and the anniversary of 9/11.
I cannot overstate the value of interfaith activity. I cannot amplify the importance of extending hands, minds, hearts, and spirits across religious lines. We learn from one another. We acquire a more-global view of the communities that are our homes. We appreciate the imperative of being on-call for each other. And we establish enduring friendships.
For these reasons, I am proud to be participating in the work undertaken by Holy Blossom Temple’s Interfaith Committee, a group that played an integral role in the success of our congregation’s recent Indigenous Memorial Program and Gifts of Light Concert.
Holy Blossom’s energetic Interfaith Committee has several worthy projects planned for 2022, all of which involve partnerships with other faith groups, and that are blessed with the ingenuity and devotion of Temple volunteers: a multifaith Passover seder, a project devoted to First Nations learning and engagement, a tikkun olam undertaking, and participation in the upcoming World Interfaith Harmony Week. Living in a world plagued by ignorance, xenophobia and mistrust, these endeavours will go a long way towards enlarging our capacity for compassion, understanding and justice.
Please contact me – Rabbi Bill S. Tepper – to learn more about Holy Blossom Temple’s Interfaith work.
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