February 7, 2008
Los Angeles area interfaith clergy visit Rome, Israel
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Amersi said she saw herself as the proxy for the rest of the group when she was the only one permitted to ascend the Temple Mount, whose visiting hours are strictly limited for non-Muslims. Much to her surprise, she was allowed to enter the site only after passing an oral quiz on the Quran.
"It's ironic," she said, "because that sacred spot is holy to the Abrahamic faiths, and because of my Muslim credentials I was the only one allowed there, so it was also a sad moment and emotional."
The peace process came up at dinner, when Knesset member Rabbi Michael Melchior addressed the group, unveiling an initiative to marshal Muslim and Jewish religious leaders in the execution of the peace process.
"The religious aspect has been excluded from the peace process, and that was a mistake," Melchior told the crowd. Granting religious legitimacy to the peace process, he noted, would be one step toward ensuring its success.
At dinner, the Rev. Kathryn Cherie Jones, senior pastor at Atascadero United Methodist Church, shared her ambivalence and uncertainty regarding her position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
"When I listen to Jewish leaders I get a better feeling of what it's like to be here -- with the history of the Shoah, the wars breaking out here, the desire to live in the land that was promised. And I think of the Palestinians and their dreams to live in a land promised to them and the children scarred, and I don't know where to stand."
Similar sentiments were expressed by Bishop Mary Ann Swenson of the United Methodist Church in Pasadena. "Our learning is that it is very complicated and complex, and there are no specific solutions."
But throughout the day, no heated polemics, arguments or rhetoric ruffled the general harmony of the trip.
"What's so powerful for me is how easy it is," remarked Reconstructionist Rabbi Reuben, summing up the day. "It's tension-free."
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