New York

New York City is perhaps the only city in the world where one can find a kosherKosher means, literally, “proper” or “correct” and refers to food that is permissible to eat under Jewish dietary laws (kashrut). These dietary laws prescribe what foods may be eaten, how animals must be slaughtered etc. Indian vegetarian restaurant run by Hindus and a halalHalal means “permissible” or “pure.. For Muslims, halal is a legal term referring to good actions and to foods that are ritually slaughtered. Halal is the opposite of Haram. Chinese restaurant run by Buddhists. The religious and ethnic diversity of the city’s five boroughs is a far cry from the former 17th-century Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam where the only permitted form of public worship was Dutch Reformed ChristianityChristianity is the religious tradition of Christians: those who confesses faith in Jesus Christ, follow the path Christ taught, and gather together in the community of the church.. Under the Dutch, brutal suppression of local native peoples was accompanied by religious persecution of many immigrants, including the flogging of QuakersThe Quaker movement, properly known as the Society of Friends, had its beginnings in 17th century England with George Fox (1624-91), whose form of worship was liturgically sparse, relying on silence and the inspiring movement of the Inner Light, the spiri..., imprisonment of LutheransLutheranism is a Protestant tradition following the theology of Martin Luther (1483-1546), the reformer who was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church and launched the German reformation. He emphasized the sole authority of the Bible, the priesthoo..., and restriction of Catholic and Jewish observances to private homes. Today, one finds New Yorkers observing and practicing virtually every world religion. The city is home to many American religious landmarks, including one of the first U.S. templesA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... built according to ancient Hindu guidelines, the upper East Side’s ultra-modern Islamic Cultural Center of New York, the first Jain templeEach Jain temple is regarded as a replica of the assembly hall miraculously created by the gods for Mahavira upon his enlightenment. Hence, in entering a temple, a Jain has the sense of approaching the spot where a living Tirthankara sits in omniscient co... in North America, and the nation’s largest Christian cathedral, St. John the Divine ProtestantProtestant is a term used for the range of reform movements that broke with the Roman Catholic Church during the period called the Reformation. There are many branches of Protestantism, including the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists... EpiscopalEpiscopal refers to any church in which authority is vested in a bishop (Greek episkopos). More particularly it refers to the Episcopal Church in America, which developed from the Church of England after the American Revolution. ChurchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ....

The cornerstone of St. John the Divine Protestant Episcopal Church was laid in December of 1892, just as Ellis Island opened as an immigration processing center. The Cathedral was originally chartered as a house of prayerPrayer is the vocal or silent address to the Divine. It may consist of fixed words, spontaneous words, or rest in silence with no words at all. Some forms of prayer are accompanied with specific postures or gestures, while others are not. for all people; its goal was to serve the local community. In the decades since St. John the Divine was founded, immigration has dramatically increased the religious diversity of New York and the Cathedral has become a center of both ecumenical and interreligious activity. In addition to hosting interfaith services to commemorate key world events or to memorialize individuals, Cathedral staff has also created an interfaith curriculum for touring the Cathedral campus in addition to other significant religious sites in the City such as the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, the New York Buddhist Church, and the Eldridge Street SynagogueSynagogue, shul in Yiddish, is the most widely used term for a Jewish house of worship. Meaning a “place of gathering,” it is the central institution of Jewish communal life. The structure and role of synagogues has changed through the centuries, but .... The Cathedral has hosted ritual performances of the Whirling Dervishes, invited Buddhist monksA monk is a man who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ord... to demonstrate chanting and to create a mandalaThe Sanskrit word mandala means circle and, by extension, the whole world. It is used in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions to refer to the symbolic circles that represent the entire world, with all its divine energies, in a microcosm. Especially in the Ti..., and annually sponsors a Thanksgiving celebration which includes Native AmericanEach of the many Native American nations has its own distinctive life-ways, although there are some widely-shared characteristics. most Native life-ways are primarily transmitted through oral traditions; they are oriented toward living in relation to a sp... sacred dance. The Cathedral has also been instrumental in the founding of the TempleA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... of Understanding, an international organization dedicated to interfaith understanding. The Dalai LamaDalai is Mongolian for “ocean” and lama is the Tibetan word for “superior,” especially referring to those of superior spiritual attainment. Together the two terms constitute the title conferred upon the head monk of the Gelug school of Tibetan Bud..., a Temple of Understanding member, has spoken at the Cathedral on many occasions, the first in 1979.

Flushing, in the borough of Queens, offers another vivid example of New York City’s vibrant religious history, and its varied and diverse present. One public school in Flushing currently enrolls students from over fifty different countries of origin, who speak nearly as many different languages. Flushing was also the first American community to draft a written protest against religious intolerance, the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657. The QuakerThe Quaker movement, properly known as the Society of Friends, had its beginnings in 17th century England with George Fox (1624-91), whose form of worship was liturgically sparse, relying on silence and the inspiring movement of the Inner Light, the spiri... Meeting House which stands on Bowne Street is a national shrine to religious freedom, a freedom to which the numerous houses of worship in the immediate vicinity richly attest. Today in a few minutes of walking, one can visit two gurdwarasThe gurdwara, “the gateway of the Guru,” is the place for community gathering and worship in the Sikh tradition. The Guru is the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikh tradition. Each center will include a chamber where the Adi Granth is kept, a..., several synagoguesSynagogue, shul in Yiddish, is the most widely used term for a Jewish house of worship. Meaning a “place of gathering,” it is the central institution of Jewish communal life. The structure and role of synagogues has changed through the centuries, but ..., two Hindu templesA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ..., three Buddhist templesBuddhist temples differ considerably from one another depending upon culture and particular school, but most are associated with the residence of the sangha of monks. Theravada temples focus on one or more images of Sakyamuni Buddha. In Mahayana and Vajra..., and a variety of Chinese and Korean Christian churchesThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church .... Flushing is living out in deeds the words of the Remonstrance: “We desire therefore in this case not to judge least we be judged, neither to condemn least we be condemned, but rather let every man stand and fall to his own master. We are bound by the Law to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith.”

The tragic events of September 11th, 2001 had a profound impact on America; no where has that impact been felt more deeply than in New York City. In the hours and days following the attacks, thousands gathered spontaneously at churches, synagogues, and mosquesMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit... across the city, including St. John the Divine, where they could reflect and seek comfort among their fellow New Yorkers. Many organized interfaith memorial events followed. One such event was an interfaith prayer service hosted by Mayor Rudy Giuliani which drew thousands to Yankee Stadium and featured religious leaders as well as celebrities like Oprah Winfrey.

While interfaith cooperation in the Big Apple has been evident post-9/11, so, too, has backlash against Muslims, SikhsSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob..., and others who “look like terrorists.” This sentiment hit a fever pitch in 2010 when protests erupted over the proposed building of Park51, an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan. The project was dubbed by opponents as the “Ground Zero Mosque” and criticized for its relative proximity to the site of attacks on the World Trade Center, now memorial. Despite the controversy, Park51 opened in 2011 and today hosts photography exhibits, ArabicClassical Arabic is the language of revelation in Islam as recorded in the Qur’an. Muslims consider every word of the Qur’an to be a direct utterance of God. The Arabic language itself is regarded as perfectly suited as the instrument for God’s comm... classes, and introductory discussions on IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to... and Muslims in America.

New York City’s rich history as an entry point for immigrants and a city of vast opportunities, has made it known as one of the most diverse cities in the world and a prime location for interfaith work. It is home to many interfaith organizations like the Interfaith Center of NY, World Faith, The Temple of Understanding, and the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. But it is also a place where different faith-related organizations as well as secular organizations have forged alliances. In light of the Oak Creek gurdwaraThe gurdwara, “the gateway of the Guru,” is the place for community gathering and worship in the Sikh tradition. The Guru is the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikh tradition. Each center will include a chamber where the Adi Granth is kept, a... shooting in August 2012, hundreds of people gathered in Union Square for a candlelight vigil where many offered messages of sorrow, hope, and solidarity. These efforts, along with interfaith programming at Auburn Seminary and initiatives like the Groundswell Movement are reminders of New York’s longstanding and vibrant engagement with its multireligious reality.


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