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Interfaith Programs

Jerusalem Interfaith Forum: Praying for Peace at the Kafr Kanna Wedding Church

Kafr Kanna, Israel - In the midst of the pain of the current war in our region, under the sounds of sirens and missile threats, the Jerusalem Interfaith Forum gathered in Kafr Kanna on July 16, 2014, to offer a common prayer for true peace.

Due to the emergency situation, the forum of 16 Muslims, Christians and Jews met on short notice at the Greek Orthodox Kafr Kanna Wedding Church, where they expressed their tearful hearts as much from the horror of war as for their natural yearning for a life of peace and harmony.

Rabbi Edgar Nof, a Reform rabbi from the Netanya community and a senior member of the forum, initiated this special gathering, with the cooperation of Father Abu-Hatoum, who opened the gates of his church to welcome the forum members together with people from the local community.

Dr. Nurit Hirschfeld, the forum director, opened the gathering by reading from the autobiography of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of UPF.*

The reading was followed by guitar music and singing, performed by Rabbi Nof and the cantor, Mrs. Vered Ivtsan. They offered songs of peace, harmony and brotherhood as well as prayers of "Hallelujah." The hopeful atmosphere brought joy to the hearts of the guests, who joined enthusiastically in the singing.

The religious leaders, Rabbi Nof and Father Abu-Hatum, offered the opening prayers, followed by the participants’ prayers, in Hebrew and in Arabic, expressing the collective yearning of hearts for brotherhood and friendship, for peaceful relationships among the nations, free from wars, pain and all sufferings.

Mrs. Adi Sasaki, president of the Women's Federation for World Peace in Israel, expressed in her prayer the desire for all humankind to have the heart of a parent who can understand the suffering of any child, regardless of the child's religion or nationality; the heart which can understand the suffering of a wife for the loss of her husband; and the suffering of any person losing his or her loved ones. “When all humankind develops a parental heart, no wars will take place anymore,” she concluded.

Dr. Aamer Dahamshe, a professor of Hebrew literature at the Arab College for Education in Israel, said that the majority of people, both Arab-Palestinians and Jews, want peace and believe in peace, but they remain a “silent majority” who definitely need to make their opinions heard.

Mr. Yaron Hirschfeld, the director of the Neighbors Association (for cooperation among Jewish and Arab villages in Northern Israel) said that a father feels joy when his children get along and enjoy being together. His prayer was that God would be able to feel the joyful heart of seeing His children from all nations living in harmony and peace with each other. “This is my prayer,” he said, “not for our own sake but rather for the sake of God.”

* Selfishness is rampant in the world. Ironically, however, the individual is destroyed by this, and not just the individual, but those around him and the nation as a whole. The greatest obstacle to the world of peace is avarice in peoples' hearts. It starts in individuals, expands to the nation, and hearts stained with avarice cause division and conflict at every level. Countless people throughout history have shed blood and died in conflicts caused by avarice.

To eliminate such conflicts, we need a great revolution to change the erroneous values and thinking that are widespread in the world today. The complex problems our societies face today can be resolved quickly if there is a revolution in peoples' thinking. If each individual and nation begins to look out for the other first, working together with the other, the problems of modern society will be resolved.

…Peace will never come to this earth unless we first tear down the walls between religions. For thousands of years, religions have grown in alliance with particular ethnic groups, and so they are surrounded by high cultural walls. Tearing these down is an extremely difficult task. For thousands of years, each religion has surrounded itself with such high walls, insisting that it is the only correct religion. In some cases, religions have expanded their influence and entered into conflicts and fights with other religions, using God's name in places that had nothing to do with His will.

The will of God lies in peace. A world fragmented by differences in nationality, race, and religion, where people attack and fight one another and shed one another's blood, is not what God wants. When we shed blood and fight each other in His name, we only cause Him pain. A world torn to shreds has been created out of the desires of people to promote their own wealth and glory. It does not represent the will of God.

From As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, pp. 245-247

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