Religious Diversity News

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Virtual Jerusalem – “Send a Prayer” to the Western Wall

Source: The New York Times

On January 28, 1999, The New York Times reported on a
Jewish news and culture web site,
www.virtualjerusalem.com,
which collects prayers from people around the world to be put into
the Western Wall in Jerusalem. An employee of the site, which is
based in Jerusalem, picks up daily printouts of prayers from the site
and places them in the crevices of the Western Wall. Virtual
Jerusalem was created for all English-speaking Jews as a way to bring
Israel and Jewish culture to a worldwide Jewish audience. Virtual
Jerusalem, which is now 4 years old, offers links to Jewish news,
religion, politics, and entertainment. With an increasing Christian
audience, the site now offers channels focusing on Judaism and
Christianity.

Papal Visit to St. Louis

Source: The New York Times

On January 27, 1999, The New York Times reported on the
Pope’s specific attention to Catholic-Jewish relations. With a rabbi
reading scripture at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in St. Louis and a
Polish-born Jew as an official guest, Catholic-Jewish relations have
advanced a great deal over the course of John Paul’s papacy. Rabbi A.
James Rudin, the inter-religious affairs director of the American
Jewish Committee, stated that, “it’s a tangible sign, in the heart of
America, that this Pope reaches out, especially to Jews, wherever he
goes.”

Hindu Temple of Kentucky Being Expanded

Source: The Courier-Journal

On January 26, 1999, The Courier-Journal of Louisville
published an article on the expansion project of the Hindu Temple of
Kentucky, located in Jefferson County. The expansion project will
feature six new gopurams to be constructed by nine temple artisans
from India. Each gopuram, which is 10 feet wide and 25 feet high,
will be designed by an architect whose family has been designing
temples for 1100 years. The $1 million cost of the project is being
financed by approximately 500 families in the local Hindu community.
The installation of deities is set for June 16th, 1999.

Interfaith Talks Launch Global Ceasefire Measure for Millennium

Source: The Plain Dealer

On January 25, 1999, The Plain Dealer published an
article on the growing movement to affect a 3-day global ceasefire to
usher in the new millennium. California Episcopal Bishop William E.
Swing has helped to launch the effort. Tibetan Buddhists and Chinese
Christian Councils have signed on to the measure and a vote is
scheduled before the American Medical Association and the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. Organizers of the 3-day ceasefire are
hoping to see child vaccinations in war-torn countries, with
participation by governments, religions, physicians, and teachers.
Bishop Swing has also been advocating for a United Nations of
Religions, where adherents of the world’s faiths can come together to
pray and work for peace.

Secular Humanistic Jews Form New Congregation in Baltimore

Source: The Baltimore Sun

On January 22, 1999, The Baltimore Sun reported on the
Baltimore Jewish Cultural Chavurah, a congregation begun in September
of 1998 for Secular Humanist Jews. The Secular Humanistic Jewish
movement, which celebrates Jewish cultural history without a belief
in God, began about 150 years ago in Eastern Europe and was brought
over to the United States in the Great Migration from the 1880s to
the 1920s. There are approximately 40,000 Secular Humanist Jews
living in North America.

Ramadan Reflections

Source: St. Petersburg Times

On January 20, 1999, the St. Petersburg Times published
an article on the breaking of the fast in St. Petersburg, where 80
Muslims congregated on the grounds of Childs Park on January 19th to
barbecue and celebrate.

Ramadan Reflections

Source: Los Angeles Times

On January 20, 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported on
the feasts and celebrations taking place in the San Fernando Valley
for Eid al-Fitr, which means “the festival of breaking of the fast”
and signals the end of Ramadan. The feast, celebrated on January
19th, saw thousands offer morning prayers at the several mosques in
the area and approximately 700 were attracted by the Islamic Center
of Reseda to prayers held in Granada Hills.

Ramadan Reflections

Source: The Baltimore Sun

On January 20, 1999, The Baltimore Sun published an
article on the breaking of the fast celebrations held at the Masjid
al-Rahmah, the mosque of the Islamic Society of Baltimore in
Catonsville, MD. Since Ramadan began with the U.S. bombings of Iraq
and closed with the massacre of 45 Albanian Muslims in Kosovo, the
Muslim community in Baltimore was saddened and angered over the
situation of Muslims in the world. Imam Adam El-Sheikh, the spiritual
leader of Masjid al-Rahmah, called on American Muslims to organize
and speak out against the atrocities. Syed H. Ashruf, a Catonsville
physician who is the president of the Islamic Society of Baltimore,
stated, “we do not want America to sit in the world as a military
might, but we want America to stand tall in the world, morally
right.”

Buddhist Social Help Organization Making Presence Felt in New York

Source: Newsday

On January 20, 1999, Newsday published an article on the
Flushing branch of Tzu-Chi, the Buddhist Compassion Relief
Foundation, which is committed to teaching and helping the poor.
Tzu-Chi, which was founded in Taiwan in 1966, has grown to more than
4 million members in 17 countries. The Flushing branch, which has
2,000 volunteers, has flourished in the area by visiting hospitals
and nursing homes, shoveling snow, street cleaning, helping the
homeless, and offering classes in Chinese culture, language, and
philosophy. Tzu-Chi relies on donations and the work of volunteers.