January 2005

Interreligious Campaign in South Africa

The Council of Churches of South Africa together with Jewish and Buddhist religious leaders, headed an intereligious campaign on behalf of the victims of the tsunami in south-east Asia. The Great Rabbi Warren Goldstein declared that ”This interreligious initiative is part of the South African dream of union and dissimilarity. This initiative shows the relevance and importance of religion as a central force in South Africa, a profoundly religious country”. An interconfessional delegation presided by the Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ivan Abraham, will travel this month to Sri Lanka and India.

Inauguration of the interreligious institute in Jerusalem

The Interreligious Council of Israel along with the moslem Association El Rafah have created the ”Kedem Institute for Reconciliation”. The inauguration of this new interconfessional setting was celebrated on 30 December. A symposium with the presence of religious leaders of Israel and from abroad was held. Among the it is worth mentioning the Vatican´s Nuncio in Israel, Archbishop Pietro Sambi; professor Marc Gopin from the University George Mason of the USA; the Khadi from Jaffa, Abed El Hakim Samarah and the head of the Greek-Catholic community of Seferam, Father Nadeem Shakour.

Meeting of the Pope with Rabbis from all over the world

Pope John Paul II received 160 rabbis and jewish liturgical singers from Israel, the United States and Europe, in the biggest private audience granted by a Pope to jewish religious leaders. During the event that took place on 18 January, the Pope remembered that ”this year we celebrate the 40th. anniversary of the declaration Nostra Aetate of the II Vatican Council that has contributed enormously in strengthening the Jewish-Catholic dialogue”. The rabbis, members of the foundation ”Pave the Way”, thanked the Pope for ”all his efforts accomplished to reconcile the two religions and demolish the walls of hatred in his 26 years of tenure”. The delegation was integrated by former Great Rabbi of Europe, Samuel Sirat, the president of the counsil of rabbis of New York, Adam Mintz and the Rabbi of the Great Synagogue of Rome, Joseph Arbid, among others.

Jewish, Christian and Moslem Prayers

On 13 January, Jewish, Moslems and Christians shared a common prayer before the tomb of the Prophet Samuel (Nebi Samuel). This meeting was organized by the ”Interterfaith Encounter Association” and the ”Abu Sukkar Center for Peace and Dialogue”. After the prayer, the believers were entertained by the Mukhtar (Dignitary) from the neighbourly arab village. The speakers were Mr.Suliman Al-Kahtib and Doctor Iehuda Stolov, directors of both institutions and sponsors of the meeting.

Interreligious Remembrance for Martin Luther King

On 18 January an interreligious service took place in honour of the memory of Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, in the Methodist Church of Attleboro. The service was conducted by Rachel Garvin and counted with the attendance of representatives of different religious confessions. The ceremony was closed by the president of the Wherton College, Ronald A.Crutcher, the first afroamerican to occupy this position.

Bicultural and Bireligious Education

On 11 January Israel´s Interreligious Council sponsored a seminary on the thematic ”Bicultural and Bireligious Education”, conducted by arab teachers Amin Khalaf, director of the center ” Hand in Hand”, and Abdelsalaam Najjar, director of the Nevé Shalom-Wahat Al-Salaam Center.

Human lives were saved thanks to his ”christian compassion”

Brazilian diplomat, Luiz Martín de Souza Dantas, who saved hundreds of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, was remembered on the 50th anniversary of his death. The homage was organized by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation together with the General Consulate of Brazil in New York. The brazilian diplomat, inspired by what he himself called ”a christian feeling of piousness”, granted visas to hundreds of Jews and other ” undesirables” persecuted by the Nazi regime. Thanks to Souza Dantas entire families found a safe haven in Brazil. During the ceremony, which took place in the General Consulate of Brazil in New York, the book ”Quixote in the darkness”, written by Brazilian historian Fabio Koifman, was presented.

An interreligious center to be innaugurated

A group of academics and professors of the ”College Nazareth” of Pittford have recently founded the ”Center for Interreligious Studies and Dialogue” to promote academic research and to accumulate information related to the interreligious thematic.The executive director of the Iman Mohammed Shafiq Center announced that the institution is preparing a catalog on themes of social science seen from the perspective of the different religious confessions. The center is also going to initiate a cycle of specialization for teachers of humanistics on the subject of interreligious dialogue.

Meeting of religious women on Mount Tabor

On 30 December the group ”Women’s Interfaith Encounter” from Israel, held an interreligious meeting during which a study session on the thematic of ”feminine leadership”, seen from the point of view of the Islam, Judaism, Christianity and the Drusean religion took place. This meeting was held in a bedouin tent in the drusean village Shibli, at the foot of Mount Tabor.

Translation: María Pensavalle