Bridging Faith Lines
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”
-Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa [1931-2021], Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
Shortly after arriving to serve the Reform Jewish community of Chattanooga, Tennessee, I was invited to attend the opening of a new mosque in our city. With my wife Deborah, and along with our community’s other faith leaders, I experienced one of the most meaningful moments of my rabbinate. How warmly were we welcomed. How gracious and kind were our hosts. The event signalled the start of many interfaith gatherings with Muslims and Christians in Chattanooga and later when I served in Winnipeg. Gatherings for learning and socializing gatherings during which I participated in panel discussions, and gatherings for which I was frequently and enthusiastically accompanied by members of my own congregation; in particular, our youth. My clergy colleagues were also welcomed to my pulpit to speak on the occasion of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, U.S. Thanksgiving, and the anniversary of September 11.
Recently, it was my good fortune to be part of a group representing Holy Blossom’s Interfaith Committee for a pre-Ramadan banquet at the Imdadul Mosque in Toronto, an evening that overflowed with friendship, learning, excellent conversation, and a wonderful meal, too!
Our Temple’s Interfaith Committee is committed to the betterment of our world through the collaboration of diverse religious thought and leadership. An array of educational programs is being planned for the spring and summer, addressing the subject of loneliness and isolation vis-a-vis the COVID pandemic, the promotion of literacy, and developing relations with our First Nations people. All activities involve ecumenical partnership and the devoted work of our committee’s energetic volunteer members. And on April 20 – during the week of Passover – Holy Blossom will host an Interfaith Seder, a dynamic opportunity for exploring the themes of freedom and responsibility by way of study, socialization and embracing what binds us as persons for whom religion is an indispensable force in our lives.
Pay attention to interfaith endeavours. It is sacred work. For those who believe in communities elevated and defined by the power of peace and understanding, bridging faith lines is imperative. In the best of possible worlds – and as Archbishop Tutu so wisely taught – we can only become human together. In arriving at such points of meeting our communities are strengthened by a common language, values, and aspirations. Synagogue, church, and mosque become the common ground through which we facilitate a better world for ourselves and all with whom we share it.