Celebration of Abraham helps build ‘a true interfaith community’
By HEIDI BAY/Special to The Democrat
Created: 01/19/2013 12:30:50 AM PST
With the 10th anniversary gathering of Celebration of Abraham, the group is coming full circle, to the ideals that brought them together in the wake of the horrors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to promote understanding and compassion among Jews, Christians and Muslims.
“Rather than letting suspiciousness and fear of people in our own community push us further apart, we decided to find bonds which could bring us together. It was a radical notion that the members of three Abrahamic faiths could find ways to get along,” said Michael Hirsch, a member of Congregation Bet Haverim who will introduce the program at this year’s event. “At this year’s event, we are looking at the fresh ways in which the CA House Multifaith Living Community participants are working together, hoping the students will be able to provide ideas to community elders who have the ability to implement change consistent with the ‘radical’ ideas that this organization was founded on a decade ago.”
The public is invited to the free interfaith event, which typically draws as many as 300 people of all spiritual paths from throughout Yolo County, Sacramento and the region. The 10th annual Celebration of Abraham will take place Sunday, Jan. 27, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Community Room at Davis Community Church, 412 C. Street, Davis.
The theme of the 2013 Celebration is “Interfaith Models of Community.” At the event, people will hear from individuals who are modeling interfaith community, focusing specifically on the Multifaith Living Community at CA House on UC Davis campus, which encompasses 38 young people from various religions, including Jewish, Sikh, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist, along with some who belong to no particular religion but are spiritually oriented.
“This is a unique resource for interfaith community,” said Helen Roland, a founding organizer of the Celebration of Abraham and member of the United Methodist Church. “It is a program unique in the country. No other school has a true interfaith living community and we hope the students can give us their insights into how to build an interfaith community where ever we are.”
As is tradition, this year’s program will include panel discussions and music, along with intimate discussions among the participants at each table. Questions based on the theme are posed to each table group, with people sharing their experiences and beliefs as they wish. The afternoon completes with a ritual of washing each other’s hands at each individual table and breaking a loaf of bread together as symbols of respect and connection.
Each year at Celebration of Abraham, donations are invited for a charitable organization. This year’s funds will go to the Red Cross specifically to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Celebration of Abraham is sponsored by a number of spiritual organizations, including American Muslim Voice, The Christian Church, (Disciples of Christ) of Woodland, Muslim Mosque of Woodland, Woodland Presbyterian Church, Woodland United Methodist Church, Congregation Bet Haverim/Jewish Fellowship of Davis, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Council on Islamic Relations (CAIR), Davis Community Church, Davis Friends (Quaker) Meeting, Davis Lutheran Church, , Davis United Methodist Church, Lutheran Church of Incarnation, Saint James Catholic Church, St. John’s United Church of Christ, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church of Davis, St. Mary’s Orthodox Coptic Church, Salam Center of Sacramento, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Church.