A 30-member delegation of the Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel met in Poland in recent days. During their stay, the delegates visited the former concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The meeting concluded with a time of common prayer, with words from the Psalms in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Council members of the Centre for Dialogue and Prayer in Auschwitz shared their experiences during this visit and summed up the four-day stay in Poland. The discussion was led by Rabbi David Rosen, Chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations.
One fruit of the meeting is the statement of the Israeli Council of Religious Leaders, signed by the members of the Council on Wednesday, Nov. 2, during the visit to the former German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
“As religious leaders, we have the special responsibility of being attentive to the cry of the poor and the weak among us, and of working to promote a more just society. (…) We declare our commitment to the sanctity of human life. We reject racism, fanaticism and extremism, especially when they are allegedly committed in the name of religion, and thus profane religion,” the statement reads.
Religious leaders met with Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, who welcomed the participants, saying: “I greet very heartily all the guests present here, who are missionaries of peace, that is, people for whom the quest for peace is a life mission.” The religious leaders also met with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.
The Metropolitan of Krakow drew attention to the figure of John Paul II, who was always a man of dialogue. The Guests also met with a delegation of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.
Article Courtesy of Episkopat.pl
Declaration of the Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel
November 2, 2016
We, the leaders of the major religions in Israel and members of the Council of Religious Community Leaders, believe in the Creator, who rules the world with benevolence and mercy, and requires of us to live with all persons in peace and mutual respect.
Our religious heritages teach that peace and the pursuit of justice are the will of God, and we as religious leaders bear particular responsibility to be attentive to the cries of the poor and the weak among us and to act to advance a more just society.
As the leaders of the official religious communities in Israel, we have decided to embark together on an historic visit to Poland, and to the site of Auschwitz-Birkenau. This visit is meant to honor the memory of millions of Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, and to express the determination of the leaders of the religious communities in Israel to do everything in their power to prevent the recurrence of such atrocities.
We call on all world leaders to act, in their countries and through the United Nations, to act with unwavering resoluteness against antisemitism, hatred of the other, which once again plague contemporary society.
We declare our commitment to cooperate and to do everything in our power to carry out this important call in the Holy Land as well, to strengthen the harmony and understanding that exist in Israel among the various religious communities.
In order to establish peace and mutual respect among members of religions throughout the world and in our country, we must educate our communities and children accordingly, and prevent affront to the feelings and beliefs of others.
Here, in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the most horrific crimes against humanity in history and the symbol of ultimate evil, where the murder of millions of Jews and others – men, women and children – was perpetrated by Nazi Germany, we declare our commitment to the sanctity of human life. We repudiate racism, fanaticism and extremism, particularly when these are committed, allegedly in the name of religion and in so doing desecrate religion.
The Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel calls for an end to war and a prayer for peace in keeping with the vision of the prophets: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not take up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4
The Council of Religious Leaders in Israel includes the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Muslim religious establishment, the Christian churches in the Holy Land, the Druze Religious Authority, the Ahmadiyya Muslim, Baha’i and Samaritan communities.