Lox with Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

A quick story from Rabbi Sack's lecture this morning: He and the Archbishop of Cantenbury are Arsenal soccer fans. They went to a game and gave blessings to the team. The team lost to Manchester United 6-2, thier worst defeat in 67 years. The London newpapers the next day declared "If this is what these religious leaders bring us then it is proof that God does not exist." Sacks went on BBC that afternoon and said "Do not fear, my friends, God does exist. But apparently he is a fan of Manchester United."


Monday, December 12th -- 7PM at Auburn

I hope that folks in NYC will join me for the MULTIFAITH POETRY FESTIVAL. I'm honored to host:

KATIE FORD, winner of a 2003 Academy of American Poets Prize, is the author of Deposition, published by Graywolf Press. Ford holds a Masters of Divinity from Harvard and her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Partisan Review,The Seneca Review, Poets & Writers and other journals. She teaches at Loyola University in New Orleans, and is associate poetry editor of The New Orleans Review.

KAZIM ALI’S poems and essays have appeared in such journals as The Iowa Review and Catamaran, and in the anthologies Writing the Lines of Our Hands and Risen From the East. A graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program, he is the author of a novel,Quinn’s Passage. His most recent book, The Far Mosque, was published October, 2005.

EVE GRUBIN’S poems have appeared inThe American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, LIT, and The New Republic. She is the poetry editor at Lyric, she teaches at The New School University and the Drisha Institute in New York City, and she is the programs director at the Poetry Society of America. Her book, Morning Prayer, will be published in December, 2005.


Here's a Herald News report on the Masjid Beit Ul-Wahid event

Fostering tolerance goal of multifaith discussion

Monday, November 21, 2005 By TOM MEAGHER

FAIRFIELD - As many North Jerseyans sat rapt in front of televisions cheering on football teams Sunday, nearly 100 others gathered to discuss a different kind of rapture.
Men and women of different religions sat in the ballroom of the Wellesley Inn to listen to spiritual leaders from seven faiths discuss their perspectives on salvation. The purpose, according to the conference's organizer, Aamir Khokhar, was to promote social harmony and religious tolerance at a time of political and spiritual turmoil.

"No religion preaches hate and violence. It's important for people of different faiths to come together," Khokhar told the audience.
Khokhar belongs to the Clifton chapter of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Association. The movement is a denomination of Islam founded in India in the late 1800s and devoted to peace, brotherhood and devotion to Allah. Each year, the local chapter hosts the interfaith conference to draw people together.
Vinay Vakani of the Jain Society of New Jersey in Essex Falls began the discussion by comparing the different religions to the old parable of a group of blind men inspecting an elephant.
"Each one of us sees things from our own point of view. Consequently, we acquire a view that is only partially correct," Vakani said.
He stressed that the Jain religion, which was founded in India in the sixth century B.C., is based on non-violence and acceptance of opposing viewpoints.
The Rev. Joseph Doyle,pastor of St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church in Fair Lawn, said forgiveness is necessary for salvation and in society. He referred to the sectarian violence that has long plagued Northern Ireland as an example of humankind's failure to forgive.
"We all think we have the right to punish the wrongdoer. When we do it, we think God is on our side," Doyle said. "We can no longer victimize anyone, because the victim is the face of God."
As children squirmed in their seats and thumb-wrestled one another, the adults listened attentively for more than two hours as each religious leader shared his insights into faith and salvation.
Rabbi Daniel Brenner, director of the Center for Multifaith Education at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York, said that in Judaism, the path to salvation rests in the present world and by helping the impoverished and those in need.
"The only way to do it is to dedicate ourselves to God," Brenner said. "The only way to dedicate ourselves to God is to dedicate ourselves to the work of fixing the world."
After the presentations, Larry Walpert, a Nichiren Buddhist from Leonia, said he was pleased with the messages he heard from each religion - messages of inclusion, respect and love.
"If this discussion today is any kind of reflection of society on a larger level, we are moving in the right direction, and I am pleased," Walpert said.


photo essay/poetry in progress

I was inspired by the film Born into Brothels. In the film, street kids were given cameras to photograph their everyday wanderings. The next day I grabbed my camera and started to photograph my daily trek. Then I added a few words. Here is what I have so far.


Happy 40th Nostra Aetate!

Last night I had the opportunity to host Sister Mary Boys, Father James Loughran, Dr. Alan Mittleman, and Rabbi Ron Kronish for a discussion of Nostra Aetate - the groundbreaking 1965 Vatican II document that recognized religious traditions outside of the Catholic Church. While Boys and Kronish spoke of the experiences in inter-religious dialogue that Nostra Aetate spawned, Mittleman and Loughran both pointed to ways in which Catholics and Jews are growing farther apart. Loughran hinted that the charge against Jews of deicide that Vatican II hoped to erase has subtley been replaced in certain conservative Catholic circles by a charge of 'abortionist' -- killing baby Jesus rather than thirty-something year old Jesus. He also spoke of emerging anti-zionism in the Catholic Church. Mittleman pointed to the ways in which Catholics continue to push for public ritual in America - creches, ten commandments, etc and Jews attempt to squash these rituals. "The New Deal once united us" Mittleman said "now Jews, Latinos, and Blacks are the only ones hanging onto Roosevelt's vision."

Among the crowd, which was about half seminary students from Princeton, Union, Drew, and JTS, was Luna Kaufman- a concentration camp survivor who was one of the 100 survivors invited by John Paul II to visit the Vatican in 1995. She approached me at the end of the evening - "This was an honest dialogue," she said, "and it is so good to see that the next generation cares."


Der Punjabi Rebbe -- Masjid Bait-ul Wahid Invite

I just recieved a wonderful invitation from the Ahmadiyya Islamic community (aPunjabi branch of Islam) to speak at an inter-faith conference on Salvation. While inter-faith conferences are nothing new - it is still very rare to see a Muslim community in America serve as the cheif organizers. For those who are interested, the event is at the Wellesley Inn, 38 Two Bridges Road Fairfield NJ on Sunday November 20th 2pm-5:30 pm. Vegetarian refreshments will be served!