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Jewish Rabbi and Muslim Imam Point the Way to Peace



 

Buenos Aires, Argentina – To conclude its peace education series for 2023, UPF-Argentina hosted a virtual meeting on the theme “Dialogue for Peace” on December 11, 2023. Rabbi Arieh Sztokman and his wife Amanda Arimayn were joined by Imam Marwan Gill and his wife Adila Ahmad for a discussion on how members of Jewish and Muslim communities can peacefully interact when their counterparts in the Middle East are at war.

 

The conversation was divided into three parts: the concept and value of dialogue; seeking reconciliation and fraternity; and finally, how to find peace. The program was moderated by Miguel Werner, president of UPF-Argentina, and Julio Nardini, a peace ambassador and member of UPF-Argentina’s Peace Council.

 

In the beginning, Imam Marwan Gill pointed out that, in his experience in Argentina, it was fundamental in interfaith dialogue to focus on similarities and not on differences. Mrs. Arimayn, the wife of Rabbi Sztokman, added that the fundamental concepts in dialogue are “asking, understanding and listening.” She  proposed that the group should “leave our comfort zone,” and revealed that she has a Muslim granddaughter. Rabbi Sztokman said it was necessary to “leave labels behind,” and recall that everyone’s blood is the same color. He quoted the Biblical mandate to “Hear, O Israel,” adding that it was sometimes necessary to “shut up.” He said that people must learn to communicate, since “We are not enemies. We are humans created by God.”


This “Dialogue for Peace” between a rabbi and an imam occurred in the context of intense ongoing conflict in the Holy Land. It was based on the proposal that, in a polarized society and world full of wars and conflicts, it is vital to regain the value of words, to learn resources for better communication, to facilitate dialogue and active listening…We must dialogue with those who are different, even antagonistic, as a testimony to the leadership who fight and argue, wasting time and energy that could be put to better use in finding solutions to deep social and global issues.

 

Rabbi Arieh Sztokman is an educator who has shared his knowledge and spiritual guidance for years at Hirsch Home and the Henry Moore Institute. He is a promoter and active participant in interfaith activities. He is author of the book “The Joy of Living and Living with Joy.” His wife, Amanda Arimayn, is an architect and alternative medicine therapist. They currently live in Las Palmas, Spain.

 

Imam Marwan Gill is president of the Ahmadiyya Community in Argentina, whose motto is “Love for All, Hatred for None.” This is a reformist Islamic movement, persecuted in some regions for their humanistic ideas. He was born German, with Pakistani parents, and studied theology in England. His wife Adila Ahmad holds a master’s degree in linguistics, and is president of Layna Ahmadia in Argentina.

 

This event was part of UPF-Argentina’s CEPA Project (Centers for Peace Education). These centers are described as “spaces for participation, learning and commitment to social transformation.” They encourage active listening, empathy, mutual respect despite differences, and a spirit of fraternity and service. They seek to provide resources and tools to face issues with sense and hope, in an intercultural, intergenerational, interreligious environment.


By Miguel Werner, President, UPF-Argentina
December 11, 2023

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