SARASOTA — It was a full house March 10, as members of St. Martha Catholic Church, Temple Emanu-El and the Islamic Community of Southwest Florida gathered together to renew their pledge of solidarity and faith sharing.
Each group honors Abraham, their shared father in the faith. Through this understanding, they renew their vow to seek to repair the hostilities and prejudices of the past, and foster appreciation of each other’s faith and common works of charity.
The ceremony began with representatives of each of the three communities sharing encouraging and unifying prayers with one another and the attentive crowd. Rabbi Brenner Glickman represented Temple Emanu-El with a reading adapted from Psalm 133:1; Hasan A. Hammami spoke for the Islamic Community with a reading based on the Talmud, Berachot 9b and adapted in the Jewish prayerbook Mishkan T’filah; and Rev. Fausto Stampiglia stood for St. Martha Church, beginning with a reading, Nostra Aetate, and finishing with a short prayer excerpted from Catholic Blessings and Prayers (National Conference of Catholic Bishops).
Mr. Hammami shared an inspirational story about a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who was killed during the invasion and destruction of Jenin. His parents generously decided to donate his organs “for the sake of the world’s children and the children of this country.” They felt that saving lives was the most important thing. The organs were transplanted into six Israeli patients, including two Arab Muslims, three Israeli Jews and one Israeli Arab Druze. One of the children, who received the heart, had been waiting for a new heart for five years. The father added that he hopes that, through this gift, his son “has entered the heart of every Israeli.”
All present were encouraged to share love through the understanding of their common ancestry in Abraham. They then recited the following oath:
“We pledge that we will courageously support each other in time of trouble. We will defend each other from discrimination, vilification and abuse, using all powers of persuasion and all the resources of the law. We make this pledge recognizing that we are not distant relations but brothers and sisters in the shared parenthood of Abraham and so required to always treat each other with respect, compassion and love. We ask God to forgive our past hardheartedness against each other, recognizing that it has its basis in ignorance and fear. It is our sincere hope that God will instruct each community in the piety of the other, thereby strengthening the bond between us.”
The oath was signed by each leading representative of the three faiths. After the signing, all present joined in a delicious kosher dinner, taking pleasure in the harmony of spirit.