March 2015 — Adar-Nisan 5775,  Volume 21, Issue 3

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Many Faiths Mourn French Terror Victims with One Heart

 

Over 200 citizens of many faiths and denominations stood shoulder to shoulder at an Interfaith Memorial Service held at the French American School of New York {FASNY} in  Larchmont, sponsored by American Jewish Committee Westchester/Fairfield and many Faith-based organizations on Sunday, February 8, honoring the memory of the 17 victims of terrorism—Jews, Christians and Muslims among them, brutally murdered in Paris, France.

 

FASNY students Sarra Eddahiri, Muslim; Adrian Lafuente, Catholic; Alienor Motte, Secularist and Gabriella Swartz, Jewish, gave biographical profiles of four of the victims, “Je Suis” (I am).

“Can the tradition of mourning help us with those gunned down in such a violent way,” Cantor Benjie Schiller of Bet Am Shalom Synagogue asked, before reciting the El Mole Rachamin.  “‘Shloshim,’ the 30 days after a death, dating from 30 days after Moses’ death on the plain of Moab, concludes the initial process, allowing  mourners to get themselves up and move forward    in their lives.”

 

Noam Ohana, President of “Tzarfat,” an organization of French Jews pointed out that, concerning the death of the political cartoonists, irreverence and satire have long been French traditions. “Voltaire was jailed 50 years before the Declaration of Independence.  He offended the Church.  Journalists offended the terrorists.  But people in the Kosher Supermarket buying challah offended no one.”

 

During the Panel Discussion, “Reflections on Freedom of Expression,” Father Brian McWeeney, Director, Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Catholic Diocese of New York acknowledged the Inquisition and Crusades. “If you are patient and mindful of G-d, ask to repent.  Seek forgiveness from those hurt through your words,” Dr. Yasser Alsafadi, President, Upper Westchester Muslim Society stated.

 

In  the Closing Centering Prayer, Reverend Stephen C. Holton, Chair, Episcopal-Muslim Relations Committee asked the audience to part their lips and breathe seven times, “The Buddhist breath that G-d gave, hovering over the waters.

 

“Then listen to new ideas.  Listen to sounds emanating from G-d.”