Tuesday , 5 July 2022

Belief Matters … Or Not? Faiths Unite in Peace

Shabbat Candles & Challah
Shabbat Candles & Challah (Photo: mikvah.org)

This weekend there will be gatherings of people from different Faith groups, with their Leaders, to worship, eat, talk, discuss, work and walk together. It is a weekend co-organised by Edinburgh InterFaith Association, the Prince Al Waleed Centre of for Islamic Studies in the Modern World at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community (‘Sukkat Shalom’, which means ‘Shelter of Peace’).

Tonight, at Sukkat Shalom, there will be the usual monthly Erev Shabbat Service with songs led by Rabbi Mark Solomon and a shared communal supper with those attending bringing non-meat, non-shellfish dishes to share with each other. This is an event much enjoyed by the community.

Tomorrow, 28th May, there will be the usual monthly Shabbat Morning Service led by Rabbi Mark Solomon with members of Sukkat Shalom taking leading parts in the Service.

This will be followed in the afternoon from 3.00 p.m. until 5.00 p.m. by a  wide discussion entitled “Breaking Barriers: Scriptural Reasoning, The ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have Nots’” with introductions by Christian, Muslim and Jewish Leaders using each Faith’s Scriptural Texts. Texts from the Christian New Revised Standard Version (NSRV) of the Bible, texts from the Islamic Qur’an and the Hadith and Jewish Tanakh (Torah, Prophets and Writings, with some Sayings), to stimulate lively discussion comparing and contrasting different situations about those living in luxury who have plenty (the ‘Haves’) and those living in dire poverty who have little or nothing (the ‘Have Nots’). The concepts of Charitable Giving (Zakah in Islam and Tzedakah in Judaism) will be explored. Light refreshments will be served to supply energy for the activities.

If anyone wishes to attend this event it is free but registration with Eventbrite is essential so that numbers may be catered for.

On Sunday there will be the fourth Edinburgh Interfaith Peace March starting at 2.00 p.m. at St Mary’s Cathedral, York Place visiting other places of worship along the way and ending at the Sikh Gurdwara with a short Service and simple shared meal, ending at approximately 3.45 p.m. Ladies normally wear a head covering and Gentlemen may be requested to wear a head covering within the Gurdwara for the Service and meal. Again, interested people should register attendance with Eventbrite.

Salaam Shalom Speaking of Peace - Marin JCC
Image: “Salaam, Shalom, Speaking of Peace” – Marin JCC

With many Faiths, there are some areas of similarity (if not total agreement) on some topics whilst on others there are wide differences of belief and of interpretation and understanding. In some there are totally opposing views.

The purpose of this weekend is to get to know each other and each other Faiths’ Traditions and understanding of the same aspects of daily life.

UK Interfaith Foundation
UK Interfaith Foundation

At this point in time there is a focus on real poverty which is widespread in Scotland and in the UK specifically. At the various events we will be looking at possible ways of tackling the wide disparity between some sections of society, of whatever Faith or of no Faith, the causes and possibly some solutions to this dreadful state of affairs which exists in the world today.

It is evident that, in many instances, the causes are greed, ignorance, insensitivity to people’s plights on the part of the “many ‘Haves’” and the lack of hope, homes, food, the essentials of life, encouragement and total despair on the part of the “many more ‘Have Nots’” in this country at the moment.

We are living in a society which concentrates mainly on acquiring possessions, status, ‘things’ which are not necessary to life but are what people think they “need” (but in fact only “want”) – this attitude deprives others of the necessities of life. Every person on this earth needs to be fed, clothed and housed but not necessarily in luxury.

We have all seen the devastation which has been wreaked upon several countries over recent years, and particularly over recent months, by wars and disputes over land. Much of this has been driven by politics along with poor decision-making and bad judgement. The result has been the displacement of many, many hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing their homelands to find safety and sanctuary.

Is it possible that our discussions over this weekend among the Faith Communities might find some achievable solutions to these situations? I do know that some Faith communities in Edinburgh have been working very, very hard to alleviate the suffering of thousands of these refugees. Many of them have been going out to the war zones and war-torn countries with relief, food and medical supplies and expertise, offering comfort, solace and, most of all, practical help to those who aShalom Salaam Peacere suffering as a result of the politicians’ war-making across certain areas of this devastated war-torn world.

What are our Faith Scriptures going to tell us about what we should be doing to help? Maybe come and join us to see if we can come up with some answers!


About Rebekah Gronowski

Rebekah Gronowski
Rebekah is a Jewish campaigner for LGBTI rights, people with disabilities and other Human Rights issues, based in East Lothian. She has been a leading member at Sukkat Shalom, Edinburgh's Liberal Jewish Community, having been one of the founding members in the Community's early days. Rebekah is also member of 'Inclusion Scotland', an organisation for and run by people with disabilities. Co-Founder of the Scottish Rainbow Covenant for LGBT Jews in Scotland and a member of Rabbis for Human Rights, promoting peace and understanding between Palestinians and Jews. She is an Independent Interfaith Rabbi and Spiritual Minister, and was ordained in 2012. Rebekah has been very involved in Interfaith issues and has a particular interest in Ancient Near Eastern Religions and Earth Traditions.

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