Thursday, October 22, 2009

Religious leaders meeting in Israel find they face similar challenges

From Anglican Journal Canada-

Leaders from different faiths who met recently in Israel see such gatherings as important for people who might fear to meet in their daily lives, but can share their experiences in an enclave of trust, says one of the organizers.

Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein, director of the Jerusalem-based Elijah Interfaith Institute said that religious people worldwide face similar challenges and expectations, so sharing a broad universal approach could be beneficial to their work. He was speaking at the conclusion of a five-day conference in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa.

"There has been a broad recognition of the commonalty of [religious] leadership which has allowed people to share strategies of how to lead [our faithful] and how to carry out the vocation of religious leadership," Goshen-Gottstein told Ecumenical News International in a telephone interview.

About 50 religious leaders representing Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism attended the fourth meeting of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders from Oct. 18 to 22. Representatives from the Vatican and of the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, also attended the meeting.

Rabbi Goshen-Gottstein noted the importance of the presence of several Muslim leaders at the event, saying that for some of them it was "courageous" to attend the conference. He said participants had been able to discuss difficult and painful regional topics in an atmosphere of confidence.

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