(March 1, 2011) – From Sept. 4-10, 2011, Toronto’s interfaith community will experience a first.
Three of the city’s religious leaders will lead a group of equal numbers of Jews, Muslims and Christians to experience the Holy Land from alternate perspectives with a commitment to continue the interfaith discussion upon return to Toronto.
Rabbi Baruch Frydman Kohl, Father Damian MacPherson, and Imam Abdul Hai Patel will head up the group of community leaders to Israel and the Palestinian territories in an effort to further religious understanding among the participants and their home congregations.
Rabbi Frydman-Kohl is Senior Rabbi of Beth Tzedec Congregation; Father MacPherson is Director of Ecumenism and Interfaith Affairs, Archdiocese of Toronto; and Imam Patel is President of the Ontario Mulifaith Council and Muslim Chaplain, University of Toronto.
The first of its kind in Canada, the week-long mission derives its name and undertaking from the Biblical character of Abraham, believed by the three religious traditions to be the first monotheist and the first figure of all three religions.
Significant local religious and political figures have been invited to meet with the group, including Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee; Bishop Giancinto-Boulous Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar; George Saadeh, Deputy Mayor of Bethlehem; and Mayor Khalid Esseleh of Hebron; and Mayor Saul Goldstein of the Gush Etzion community.
The mission participants will also visit cities that are significant to the three monotheistic religions in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Nazareth, and the Galilee, including such sites as the Temple Mount and Western Wall, the Golden Mosque and Haram al-Sharif, the Church of Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The group will also visit community projects that seek to develop greater interaction between Arabs and Jews.
The leaders have defined five goals for the group:
- *To raise awareness about the complexity of religious issues between the three religions in the Holy Land;
- *To better understand the complexity of political issues as they affects the possibility of peace between Israelis and Palestinians;
- *To promote “citizen diplomacy” as a means toward better Israeli-Palestinian relations.
- *To facilitate improved relationships between the peoples of Palestine and Israel as well as local religious communities in Canada;
- *To advocate for mutual understanding as a key component of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
For further information on this initiative, please contact Judy Csillag at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-526-1747