Interfaith Convocation Spotlights Religious Freedom and Diversity
Paul J. Rosenbaum
ICRF co-sponsored the President’s Day Interfaith Celebration of America’s Heritage of Faith February 18, at the Washington Family Education Center in the nation’s capital. The Celebration was conceived and inspired by Rabbi Dr. David Z. Ben-Ami, founder of the American Forum for Jewish-Christian Cooperation (AFJCC).
Ministers, DC Government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, noted musical artists, clergy, and members of various faiths all came together to add vitality and joyous celebration to this interfaith service.
Featured performers included Cantor Vadim Tunitsky, who came all the way from Temple Emanu-El in Houston Texas to share several inspirational songs from the Jewish tradition of sacred music; and recording artist Brother John Michael Talbot, who stirred the crowd with a musical incarnation of the prayer of St. Francis—"Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace."
Keynote messages were give by ICRF executive director Dan Fefferman, on "America’s Heritage of Religious Freedom," Institute on Religious and Public Policy president Joseph K. Grieboski on "Celebrating Religious Diversity," and Martin Luther King Family Life Institute director Rev. Levy Daugherty on "Love and Forgiveness Makes America Great."
Rabbi Ben-Ami has been a leading organizer of interfaith activities for several decades. He was assisted in this year’s endeavor by Mel Haft of the Jewish Family Federation for World Peace, an association of Jewish Unificationists in the Washington DC area. Also participating were clergy and believers of the Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish traditions.
According to Rabbi Ben-Ami, the purpose of these gatherings is: "to express in spirit and deed the American spirit of religious liberty which is manifested in the concept ‘One Nation Under God.’"
"As Americans representing diverse faiths and races, we give expression to the ideals of equality and fraternity—the ideal of charity to all and malice toward none," he stated. "We take spiritual inventory of where the nation stands in respect to the fulfillment of it’s own ideals and traditions."