Wisdom Newsletter March 2022

Return to Jerusalem
  1. Religious Leaders Respond to War in Ukraine, Call for Peace
  2. The Elijah Interfaith Summer School and Interreligious Leadership Seminar 2022: “Return to Jerusalem”
  3. Praying Together in Jerusalem: "Lessons of Compassion from Ramadan, Passover and Easter"
Religious Leaders Respond to War in Ukraine, Call for Peace
On March 22, a group of religious leaders were brought together in Jerusalem by the Interfaith Centre for Sustainable Development and the Elijah Interfaith Institute to call for peace in Ukraine. 
Among the speakers were His Beatitude Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Sheikh Hassan Abu Galion, Rabbi David Rosen, and Muslim and Druze religious leaders. The purpose was to encourage Patriarch Kirill to use his position as head of the Russian Orthodox Church for peacemaking. 

This interfaith gathering follows the delivery of an interfaith letter to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, calling on him to speak with President Putin to seek peace. The letter was signed by 150 Jerusalem and global religious leaders and clergy, led by the members of the Elijah Board of World Religious leaders, including H.E. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Sri Sri Ravi Sankar, Dharma Master Hsin Dao, Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric and Rabbi Michael Melchior. The prominent religious leaders, representing the world's major faith traditions, expressed their deep concern with the war and affirmed the key role religious leaders play in promoting peace between Russia and Ukraine. 

At a time when everything hangs in the balance, we must not assume that political and military leaders alone will be able to defuse this crisis. As Putin has put Russia on nuclear alert, human casualties mount and bombs ravage 
cities and nature, it is a key time for religious figures worldwide to advocate for peace.

The letter to Patriarch Kirill can be found below and on Elijah's website.
Your Beatitude Patriarch Kirill,

We, religious leaders representing many faith traditions, write to express our concern with the war taking place in Ukraine. We are mindful of our religious obligation to choose peace through dialogue. Our role is to pray for and support peaceful resolutions of conflict situations.

We are saddened to see the fighting, which pits people of faith against each other. The current conflict has already resulted in a significant loss of life, of both combatants and civilians. The conflict also poses a much wider risk of destruction beyond Ukraine, including the threat of a nuclear accident and a larger conflict between nuclear armed powers, which we know God wants us to avoid at all costs. In this moment, religious leaders are called to rise to the occasion on behalf of God, people, and all creatures.

We appreciate how as Patriarch you have spoken for peace. In light of your close connection to President Vladimir Putin, we call on you to request that he take immediate steps to de-escalate the conflict, and seek a peaceful resolution to it.

We thank you for your time and attention in considering this request.

With blessings for peace on God’s good earth
The Elijah Interfaith Summer School and Interreligious Leadership Seminar 2022:

“Return to Jerusalem” 
24 - 29th July; 31st July - 4 August
After two years of only being on Zoom, we are able to offer the experience of community-building and encounter with the holy city of Jerusalem that characterises an Elijah summer school, while continuing to offer the opportunity to participate to those who cannot join us in person. 

Morning sessions:
9:00 am -1:00 pm, exploring and understanding Jerusalem through the eyes of different religious traditions, imbibing the sanctity of the holy city; afternoon sessions (live-streamed):
4:00 – 7:00 pm, the concept of “return”.

Topics include:
  • “The need for ‘return’ – loss and restoration – grief and consolation,” 
  • “The concept of ‘return’ as repentance, purification or reunification,” 
  • “Returning to sacred places – pilgrimage. What makes a site holy and a magnet for pilgrimage?”, “Return to self and processes of return as part of interior psychological map, activated in prayer. “
  • The seminar will include a 3-day workshop devoted to the power of prayer and making prayer meaningful.
Register here
Praying Together in Jerusalem
Join us for this month's gathering of Praying Together in Jerusalem:
"Lessons of Compassion from Ramadan, Passover and Easter"

We will also continue with our prayers for peace. 

Scholars and leaders from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism will share their wisdom and local leaders will lead us in prayers.

Thursday, April 7th at 6:00 pm Jerusalem time.
11 am ET time
8 am Pacific time
4 pm UK time
5 pm Central European time
6 pm Israel time
8:30 pm India time

We are meeting on Zoom and in-person at "FELM" (the Finnish Centre) where after the prayers we will join Interfaith Encounter Association in their iftar meal. 

Sign up here
Teachers will include:
Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp (The Netherlands)
Awraham Soetendorp is Rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Community in The Hague (The Netherlands) and a member of the Elijah Board of Religious Leaders. He presides over the European Region of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, and serves as Earth Charter Commissioner and is a Founding Board Member of the Green Cross International. Since 1993, Awraham Soetendorp has been co-chair of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders with Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro, Grand Mufti of Syria. 
Swamini Adityananda Saraswati (India)
Swamini is the Associate Executive Director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. Having served humanitarian and interfaith causes for over 20 years, Swamini has worked from the ground level to the United Nations and World Bank levels towards addressing climate change, hunger, thirst, violence, AIDS, war and other concerns within nations including India, the United States, Tanzania, Uganda, and more. She is a Hindu monastic of the Saraswati order.
Rev. Karin Ekblom (Jerusalem)
Karin Ekblom is a priest for the Church of Sweden's congregation in Jerusalem. Karin works with ecumenism and interfaith dialogue at the Swedish Theological Institute, STI, in Jerusalem. Karin also works with STI's and the Church of Sweden's ecumenical and pastoral presence in the region. She is also responsible for the parish's worship and devotional life, diakonia and pastoral care and participates in STI's educational activities. 
Nivine Sandouka (Jerusalem)
Nivine Sandouka is a Jerusalem Muslim woman, prominent in human rights and peace-building activism. She is a civil society representative of the International Reference Group for the World Council of Churches. Nivine is the executive director of Our Rights – Hoqoqona, a new NGO based in Jerusalem which focuses on civic and political rights of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, especially women, and runs a grassroots initiative called ‘Judi, from me to you’ which aims to bring women together. 
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