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Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders Come Together for an Unprecedented Mission to Israel

Interfaith Mission Led by Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue
By: David Shear
Published: December 23rd, 2011 in News » World

Stephen Wise Free Synagogue convenes 16 senior religious leaders from New York City to promote peace and understanding through a first of its kind mission to Israel. The program is intended to create and broadcast a positive model of interfaith relations based on mutual acceptance and tolerance. Spearheading this initiative is Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, senior Rabbi at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.

During the intensive six-day trip the clergy will visit the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and together address challenges to peaceful coexistence. Among the leaders they anticipate meeting with are: Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel; Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority; Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority; Shimon Peres, President of Israel; Natan Sharansky, former refusnik and Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel; Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem, and David Buskila, Mayor of Sderot. In addition the delegation is scheduled to meet the mayor of Bethlehem and the leadership of the neighboring settlement of Efrat in order to gain a better understanding of the reality on the ground.

“There is an urgent need to counter the impression that our three great faiths are at war with each other,” said Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. “We believe in a better way: the way of dialogue and mutual respect. We hope that our visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories will emphasize our common aspiration for, and commitment to, a more peaceful world. We are eager to meet and encourage Israelis and Palestinians who are working daily to realize this aspiration.”

The religious leaders head 15 historic institutions and collectively represent tens of thousands of New Yorkers. The participants are Sheikh Dr. Ibrahim Abdul-Malik, Admiral Family Circle Islamic Community; Reverend Stephen Bauman, Christ Church; Reverend Shari Brink, Marble Collegiate Church; Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein, B’nai Jeshurun Congregation; Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, Park Avenue Synagogue; Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman, Union Temple of Brooklyn; Reverend Galen Guengerich, All Souls Unitarian Church; Imam Dr. Muhammad Hatim, Admiral Family Circle Islamic Community; Reverend Dr. William Heisley, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church; Reverend Brenda Husson, St. James Episcopal Church; Reverend Dr. James Kowalski, Cathedral Church St. John the Divine; Reverend Stephen Phelps, The Riverside Church; Father Robert Robbins, Church of the Holy Family at the United Nations Parish; Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, Central Synagogue; Rabbi Jonathan Stein, Temple Shaaray Tefila; led by Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.

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