In Los Angeles, Post-9/11 Interfaith Initiatives Continue to Thrive

September 11, 2006

Source: Monterey Herald

Wire Service: AP

On September 11, 2006 the Associated Press reported, "Immediately following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Jews and Muslims met and prayed together. Five years later, members of the two faiths are volunteering and teaching together. In coming months, hundreds of Jews and Muslims will take their respective faiths to Los Angeles area streets, working in teams to conduct college teach-ins and help the homeless, immigrants and the working poor. The project is a testament to the evolution of the interfaith movement here -- a fragile work-in-progress that took root after the terrorist attacks and has grown despite the pressures of war in Lebanon, violence in Iraq and Iran's nuclear ambitions. Members of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities are cooperating on at least a half-dozen different projects statewide aimed at increasing understanding -- and tolerance -- among three of the world's major religions. 'This work is the least sexy, least glamorous work you can do. It's a long, hard slog,' said Daniel Sokatch, executive director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance, which focuses on social justice issues. 'But if you can come up with a relationship that even begins to look like what we have, especially in a city like ours, it's worth it,' he said. One of the biggest organizations in Los Angeles, the Interfaith Communities for Justice & Peace, grew from an impromptu meeting shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. Now, its members are working on an interfaith peace initiative featuring speakers -- one Muslim, one Jewish and one Christian -- at separate weekend workshops dedicated to creating an 'interfaith declaration on peacemaking.' 'There's a solid 60 people who have stayed with it through the storm and who understand what it means to try to create a world of peace and justice and get out of the mentality of retaliation and violence,' said the Rev. George Regas, the group's founder and rector emeritus of All Saints Church in Pasadena. 'It takes a lot of loving and a lot of attention.' The goal, Regas said, is a national convention of faith leaders dedicated to stopping violence between religious groups both in the Middle East and at home."