SPRINGFIELD, NJ - On Wednesday evening June 28, the Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council, religious and community leaders, and various people of conscience gathered together at Temple Sha’arey Shalom on 78 South Springfield Avenue. The purpose of this gathering was to reflect on the power of interfaith solidarity through song, prayer, and the reading of sacred scriptures.
The reason for this meeting of reflection and solidarity was also in response to the recent terror attacks, specifically in the United Kingdom, and the increase of discrimination towards Muslims these attacks have brought about. The view is Islamophobia has become a common reflex/reaction in our society today do to the fear, pain, and mixed emotions by our citizens in the aftermath of these horrible acts.
While part of the reason for this gathering was in response to discrimination against Muslims, it is also a testimony to the profound relationships that people amongst different faiths share with each other. Simply by having these relationships help to promote a more peaceful community and a deeper trust for one another in the elusive hope of embracing one another as a beloved community, which is the main goal of this meeting, and the message this group wishes to get across.
This gathering of solidarity consisted of songs about peace and unity, along with various public speakers. These speakers included notable religious leaders such as the lead Pastor at Holy Cross J. David Knecht, and Rabbi Edelman of Sha’arey Shalom Temple where this ceremony was held. Several community leaders spoke at this gathering as well including Township Committeewoman Erica Dubois and Union County Freeholder Chair Bruce Bergen.
These leaders spoke out about their experiences with discrimination and encouraged all who attended to spread peace, awareness, and unity to those around them. These positive messages correlate with a pledge form that was handed out at the ceremony called The Pledge To Stand Up For The Other, which states, “While interacting with members of my own faith, or ethnic, or gender community, or with others, if I hear hateful comments from anyone about members of any other community, I pledge to stand up for the other and speak up to challenge bigotry in any form.”
This pledge form not only represents unity between all people, but also portrays the message of peace, and interfaith relations, in which this group of religious and community leaders were trying to enlighten our people about and encourage all citizens to express this behavior and treat everyone as brother and sister.