Interfaith Symposium Seeks To Promote Dialog

Second symposium will bring together people of different faiths and backgrounds


The second Interfaith Symposium seeks to build on the success of the first gathering held in March that attracted more than 250 people. The symposium on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. is open to people of all faiths and backgrounds who want to learn more other religions, holidays, prayers, customs and their history. 

Martha Siegel, a symposium organizer, said the objective is to bring people of different backgrounds together and give them a chance to speak with each other as a step toward promoting peace and understanding.  The symposiums developed from meetings of the Nyack Interfaith Clergy Association, which looks at various ways to promote interfaith discussion.

“The goals of the symposium are to educate on different faiths, history and worship and community to give people a chance to ask questions and express their own particular concerns about what may be in a different faith and to intermingle informally to get to know each other as people,” said Siegel. 

The New City resident explained those attending the Sunday Evensong Service at Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack will have a chance to learn about the music-based worship service and what the different parts of it mean. Also known as Vespers, it is based on “Anglican tradition, which traces it roots to the early church, monastic Roman Catholic and early Reformation communities.”  It includes song, psalmody, reading scripture and prayer. Siegel described the setting of the church as a “magnificent, peaceful place to be.”

Those attending can participate in the service to the extent they are comfortable. Space will be provided for Maghrip Prayers at 6 p.m. Following the service, there will be a comment and question session and an informal reception for people to talk casually.

“People can get to know each other on a personal level which is so vital to promote understanding among people, understanding among religions,” said Siegel, who is a member of Temple Beth Torah of Upper Nyack.

Siegel said she got involved because she feels it is important for people to gain knowledge about other cultures.

“We need to bring an understanding of each other, each other’s religions,” she said. 

The first Interfaith Symposium drew more than 250 people to the Islamic Center in Valley Cottage. According to Siegel, it encouraged some people to attend Ramadan services and a Passover Seder to learn more about other religions.

In addition to the Islamic Center, Grace Episcopal Church and Temple Beth Torah, the other participating houses of worship are: Congregation Sons of Israel, First Immanuel Missionary Baptist Church, First Reformed Church of Nyack, St. Ann’s Catholic Church and Temple Beth Torah.   Siegel said the next symposium is already in the planning stages and Temple Beth Torah and Congregation Sons of Israel will host a joint session.

Tony T October 09, 2012 at 12:43 PM
To promote understanding among religions is a good thing. Much to our credit as American I see no systemic or deep rooted intolerance among people’s religions or religious group’s such as was once the case in Northern Ireland and now in many of the Middle East countries. Because of the Constitution and the guarantee of freedom from government intervention in religion we have tolerance of and peace among the many great religions represented in this county. There may be individuals who are bigots of others and their religion but I see no religious group per se fostering intolerance or discord. The closest I have seen to this in the United States in the Democratic Party, Harry Reid and other democrats making an issue of Governor Romney and his Mormon faith and atheist who are trying to bend the intent of the Constitution and remove God or the reference of God from every aspect of public life! Maybe at a symposium such as this you should seek out, invite and enjoin those who challenge religion and foster intolerance, discord and bigotry against religion as a whole and challenge them.
Issy October 09, 2012 at 03:19 PM
It is comical to suggest that Reid is making an issue out of Romney's Mormonism when Reid is also a Mormon. The Supreme Court, which I would suggest has a better understanding of the intent of the Constitution than you, has upheld Separation of Church and State 25 times over the last 130 years, so who really is doing the bending here? I believe you will find that most atheists and many theists are not fostering intolerance, but instead support secular values where everyone is free to believe or not as they wish, without having religion thrust upon them through laws and symbols that defy our secular Constitution.
Shel Haas October 09, 2012 at 03:42 PM
The knowledge of all religions is praiseworthy. However, knowledge in itself is harmless. What we do with that knowledge has led to conflicts among adherents of a specific religion numerous times in the history of the world. The problem is exemplified by the ignorance of the tenets of each religion. The reason for Islam is given in its holy book, the Quran. It is because Christians do not follow the principles of Christ and because Jews do not follow the laws of Moses that lead to the beginning of Islam. Despite the ravings of the illiterate and others, the Quran invites persons of other religions to convert to Islam or dire consequences will result in the next life. it also cautions its followers not to trust non-believers. How do your meetings counter religious doctrine? Why don't Christians follow Christ's principles and why don't Jews follow the laws of Moses? Are Muslims obliged to convert all non-believers to Islam? Stunning questions whose answers can lead to stunning conclusions.


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