Honoring People of Other Faiths

During the month of November many Jewish congregations gather to honor the interfaith families in their midst as a part of www.interfaithfamily.com’s Interfaith Family Month. This is an opportunity to take time to honor the people of other faith traditions who are sharing the journey as part of Jewish communities.  

In the Jewish tradition there are many times in which the people of other backgrounds among us have impacted our community in profound ways. The Torah teaches us the story of Moses being saved by Pharoah’s daughter, a non-Jewish woman, and of Moses marrying Zipporah the daughter of Jethro a Midianite priest. We also learn of Moses’ relationship with Jethro who became his friend and counselor. We learn that Ruth stays with her Jewish mother-in-law Naomi, saying “wherever you go, I will go; and where you stay, I will stay, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

We have learned over the course of history how important our non-Jewish neighbors have been for the survival of the Jewish people. And today we honor the presence of these people in our community. You have given countless times and in countless ways of your hearts, and your souls. You have given fully in ways that help us to grow together, learn together and be inspired by one another.

At Passover the Jewish people celebrate the journey from slavery to freedom. While we rejoice over our liberation daily, we must also recognize those whose courage, inspiration, direction, and sacrifice helped us get here. The Jewish people are asked to remember the Exodus from Egypt daily in our prayers and to teach it to our children. Let us remember that Moses, one of the greatest leaders of the Jewish people, taught us that love is more powerful than hate; that we have a responsibility to “welcome the stranger because we were once strangers in the land of Egypt”; and that our future is filled with eternal rebirth, renewal, and hope.
Let us come together in our many faiths and traditions and share with one another what it means to live in a welcoming, diverse community. We thank you for being a part of our community. Your presence makes our lives full of a richness we wouldn’t otherwise have. You make us stronger by enriching our story and adding your own traditions.
As your many blessings are upon us, we bless you with the priestly blessing:

יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה, וְיִשְמְרֶךָ

May the eternal bless you and keep you

יָאֵר יהוה פָנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶךָּ

May the light of the eternal be shed upon you and be gracious unto you

יִשָא יהוה פָנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵם לְךָ שָלוֹם

May the eternal bestow favor upon you and give you peace.

There are many ways and times to honor the individuals and families who find their home in the Jewish community. In whatever way you choose to honor the interfaith members of your community may you feel the many blessings of welcoming, presence, and peace with you always.
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