I am blessed to be in Israel for a few days on an Interfaith Mission of clergy from Westchester. Seeing Israel through the eyes of my Christian clergy colleagues has been incredible. Pastor Lee Trollinger read from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount at the Mount of Beatitude in the Galilee. Father Kiril Angelov of St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church knelt in reverence at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and then comforted Ukrainian refugees at a new immigrant absorption center. Episcopal Reverend Jennifer Brown offered reflections on being at the Temple Mount. Minister Mark McLean recited Psalm 100 after a visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The rabbis on the trip of have shared their teachings and words of blessing at other sites. You can imagine that the conversations on the bus have been pretty intense.
It will take me a long time to fully process this trip. And, I am hopeful that it will yield some meaningful interfaith partnerships for our congregation. In the meantime, as we get to know one another and explore co-existence programs and initiatives here in Israel, there is one word that keeps coming to mind: humanity. Our common humanity has been highlighted in so many ways: taking a deep dive into the diversity of this holy land, learning about the faith and values of our neighbors, experiencing Yad Vashem with them, listening to parents from Bethlehem and Jerusalem who have lost children to the ongoing conflict, seeing people cry with reverence at holy sites, and so much more. With all our differences in background, faith, politics, perspective, and life experience – we are all still profoundly human.
May God grant us all the wisdom to see this humanity in one another and in every person that we encounter and may that wisdom bring this world a bit more peace.