On Tuesday afternoon, Congregation Emeth hosted a “steering committee” of interfaith clergy in South Valley. We came together, to form a response from faith leaders to the current climate in our country regarding people who are “other” – in particular our Moslem neighbors. When we decided to have our next meeting, they requested returning to Emeth because of the special feeling of meeting in our library. I wanted you to know that!
Until becoming part of this community I had little knowledge and even less interaction with people of different faiths. My father always taught me, “There are many mountaintops and all of them reach to the stars,” and taught his children to respect differing beliefs. Even growing up in Texas, we knew that discrimination was wrong and each of us stood up to it in our own way.
But I had few friends who were not Jewish. This current opportunity to learn from my interfaith families as well as the clergy in our community has enriched my rabbinate and my own personal opportunities for growth. Our “steering committee” has plans for future activities that will soon be announced; in the meantime put on your calendars: January 18, Martin L. King Day, 7:30 PM, Advent Lutheran Church, for a social interfaith gathering.
To our non-Jewish members, you are a blessing to my life. You have enriched my own religious experience by giving me opportunities to look at Judaism through your eyes. In so doing, I am struck more by our similarities than our differences. We all want a world that is filled with acts of lovingkindness, a world which offers opportunities for all, regardless of religious belief, ethnic culture, socio-economic standing. We all pray for peace. As I’ve come to know you, I’ve come to appreciate you more each year. I especially am grateful to those of you who trust us with your children in our religious school. During the season of light may you experience God’s Light shining upon you, and may you experience the love of family and community.
May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of Peace,
Rabbi Debbie Israel