A World Jewish Congress delegation including WJC Commissioner on Interfaith Relations Claudio Epelman took part on Friday in a meeting of the Higher Committee on Human Fraternity, a joint initiative of the Vatican and the United Arab Emirates, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
During the meeting, the UAE announced its plans to create the Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith compound which will include a synagogue, a mosque and a church in a collective space. The compound is set to open in 2022 on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The collective space is meant to serve the broader community for inter-religious dialogue and exchange and nurture the values of peaceful co-existence and acceptance among different beliefs, nationalities and cultures.
The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was formed as part of the follow up to a joint declaration - the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together – signed in Abu Dhabi in February of this year by Pope Francis and the grand imam of al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb calling for religious tolerance and dialogue.
In addition to the WJC representatives, participants at the meeting on Friday included committee members Judge Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, His Eminence Elect Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) Abu Dhabi Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak and Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and other dignitaries.
Epelman praised the Higher Committee on Human Fraternity for its initiatives to unite people of different faiths. “The World Jewish Congress is committed to inter-faith dialogue that extends beyond just tolerance and into true acceptance of one another. We hope that the Abrahamic Family House achieves its goal of providing a safe and productive space for people of Abrahamic faiths, and that it can serve as a model for other communities seeking to work together to promote peace and fraternity,” Epelman said.