Reading Jewish Lives Presents Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent
Martin Buber spent his life debating and reinterpreting the ways of faith and inter-personal relationships.
Dear Park Avenue Synagogue Family,
This week I had the honor of participating in a meeting of the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative. With about twenty Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faith leaders from around the world, and with the support of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, we gathered to engage in dialogue at the Pontifical Gregorian University seeking to cultivate a common language and concrete steps towards building bridges of peace around the globe. It was altogether humbling to be in dialogue with a pastor of an Evangelical megachurch, an Imam representing over a hundred million Indonesian Muslims, and, for that matter, Pope Francis himself.
Every participant agreed that our faith traditions should be a source for building bridges of peace amongst a diverse humanity. In this moment, when the public square has become saturated by the most toxic voices, it is incumbent upon religious leaders to remind our respective faith communities of the equal and infinite dignity of every human being, each person created in the image of our shared God. Substance and style are both essential elements of interreligious dialogue. In conducting a respectful exchange of ideas with each other, even and especially with those with whom we disagree on a variety of subjects, we hoped to model the possibilities for our home communities.
I was acutely aware that at the very time I was in Rome seeking to counter violence performed in the name of religion, our own New York Jewish community is seeking to address the spike in antisemitic attacks. In the months ahead, the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative will consider the next steps – both systemic and symbolic – from the global to the local. For the moment, my time in Rome has reminded me that perhaps the most powerful tool we have to fight mistrust and hate is dialogue. Each one of us, and all of us together, can seek to engage with individuals and communities different than our own. Learning with each other and from each other, we can be reminded of our shared humanity.
I look forward to sharing more in the weeks to come and to working together into the future.
Rabbi Cosgrove with Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah and Pope Francis