African interfaith clergy in Israel to learn

Mission from three monotheistic faiths also hopes to learn from each other.

By JONAH MANDEL
August 5, 2010 03:55
1 minute read.
CHIEF RABBIS (seated from left) Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar, and (standing from left) the Foreign M

African clergy 311. (photo credit: Chief Rabbinate of Israel)

 
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An interfaith mission of African clergy is in Israel to learn from one another and local experts about ways religion can contribute to and inspire community development projects.

The Foreign Ministry teamed up with the American Jewish Committee to bring together two Muslim imams, seven Christian clergy members and one rabbi from Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia and South Africa.

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The AJC said it was the first time that Muslim and Christian leaders have made a joint visit to Israel.

They arrived on Monday for four days of discussions and meetings with the highest echelon of the country’s religious leadership, as well as with President Shimon Peres and other prominent figures.

The delegation has already met with both chief rabbis, the Latin and Greek patriarchs and Armenian archbishop, and will be meeting with Qadi Muhammad Abu Obeid in Nazareth on Thursday.

The religious leaders were also exposed to social and communal projects at work in Israel, such as Yad Sarah, and paid a visit to Neveh Shalom, where Jews, Christians and Muslims share a small community.

“Many of the participants noted with appreciation not only the remarkable initiatives they have seen and learnt about in Israel, but that this is the first opportunity that they have had to share their own experiences and best practices with religious leaders from other parts of Africa,” said Rabbi David Rosen, AJC’s international director of interreligious affairs.

Rosen noted the “wonder and amusement” expressed by one delegation member at the fact that it took the AJC and the Israeli Foreign Ministry to facilitate this encounter. Tensions between Christians and Muslims exist in some of the delegates’ countries.



Shimon Mercer-Wood of the ministry’s Africa Division, who initiated the visit, cited the significance of this kind of encounter with African clergy.

“Religious leaders are highly influential in Africa, both on the public and the political leadership,” Mercer-Wood said.

“This delegation will assist us in deepening our dialogue with the Muslim communities in Africa.”


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