(photo credit: )
Israel’s religious leaders met on Thursday in lower Galilee to discuss freedom of religion and worship in the Holy Land, as well as to offer a joint prayer for rain.
The Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel, whose fourth annual convention took place at the Domus Galilaeae International Center near the Mount of Beatitude, is comprised of the heads of the various religious communities in Israel, including both chief rabbis, heads of churches, the head of the Druse community, the head of the Islamic Appeals Court and heads of other communities such as the Baha’i, Ahmadiyya, Lutherans, Anglicans, Samaritans, Copts, Ethiopians and Assyrians.
Bahij Mansour, director of Inter-religious Affairs Department at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attended the event and said that beyond
freedom of worship, the council’s Thursday session also dwelt on the
role of religious leaders during crises.
The body was formed some four years ago at the initiative of the Foreign
Ministry and the Interior Ministry to provide a forum for cooperation
and dialogue among the different creeds. Besides holding workshops to
that end, since its inception the council has been involved in numerous
counts of lowering tensions between religious groups, such as those that
arose between Muslims and Jews in Acre, Christians and Druse in
Shfaram, and Druse and Jews in Peki’in, Mansour noted.
And – as one would expect from a congregation of men of faith a short
distance from the alarmingly expanding shores of the Kinneret – the
religious leaders held, prior to the Thursday meeting, separate and then
joint prayers for an end to the drought.
Mansour noted the council’s growing recognition from organizations and
bodies around the world, and an invitation to its members by Pope
Benedict XVI to a meeting at the Vatican in January, which constitutes
the Holy See’s official recognition of the forum and its importance in
conducting dialogue and relations among the various religions in Israel.