Love. Healing. Unity.
These universal values were at the heart of each of the prayers shared by religious leaders from many of the world’s leading faith traditions during the religions for peace ‘Multi-faith and Intergenerational Prayers for Peace’ event on January 5th, 2021. Religions for Peace, an international faith-based organization committed to leading effective multi-religious responses to the world’s pressing issues, believes the challenges facing the world today can best be tackled when faith communities work together.
As the world looks back on a truly tumultuous year, one marked by hardship and sorrow but also great acts of kindness, and looks forward to 2021 with optimism, this event provided a unique moment to give thanks for all we have and to inspire hope for the future.
I was privileged to represent the World Jewish Congress’ Jewish Diplomatic Corps at this online prayer event, which brought together leaders from all faith traditions from around the globe and allowed them to not only share their reflections but offer words of prayer. From Baha’i to Sikh, Buddhist to Hindu, Christian and Muslim and even multiple Jewish leaders, fascinating observations were shared, and heartfelt prayers for peace exchanged.
I was touched that although the languages on the webinar may have sounded different, the rhythm and structures of the various prayers distinct, and the names of G-d used by the religious leaders diverse, the spirit of each message was essentially the same – love, healing, unity. So much more unites the world’s religious traditions and believers than divides us.
I am proud to be a part of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), an organization that has a long history of working on interfaith issues and is currently strengthening ties with other international faith groups such as Religions for Peace International.
From engaging with religious leaders across continents, to combating destructive anti-vaccine myths, to the recent United Against Racism Conference held by the WJC’s flagship program the Jewish Diplomatic Corps has worked to build alliances between faith and minority groups and give young Jewish leaders training to share with their local communities, much of the WJC’s interfaith goals focus on creating networks of multi-faith and non-governmental organizations to combat all forms of racism, hate and discrimination.
Although history is replete with conflict between religious ideas and groups, events led by groups such as Religions for Peace International show how through building a greater understanding of our differences and strengthening our similarities, our religious traditions can be a source of collaboration and courage as we face what lies ahead in the new secular year.
Alana Baranov (South Africa) is a Steering Committee member of the World Jewish Congress’ Jewish Diplomatic Corps.