Hindu and Jewish religious leaders meet for the first time for a two day dialogue on a range of religious issues.
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
An historic event took place in New Delhi (6-7 Feb-2007), when Hindu and Jewish religious leaders met for the first time for a two day dialogue on a range of subjects. Among the subjects discussed were the relevance of tradition in everyday life, similarities and dissimilarities between the two religions, and education. The purpose behind this unusual inter-faith dialogue was the promotion of understanding, tolerance, peace and conflict resolution through religion.
The summit was organized by the World Council for Religious Leadership and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Jewish participants included the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, the former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, David Rosen, the Chief Rabbi of Belgium, President of the Committee for Relations between Judaism and other Religions, and additional rabbis from Europe, the United States of America and India. Also present were Israeli ambassador to India David Danieli, Consul General to Mumbai, Daniel Zonshine, and director-general of the Chief Rabbinate, Oded Wiener. Hindu participants included some thirty prominent priests from all over India.
The summit began with the singing of a traditional religious song of each religion. On the first day representatives of each side – Chief Rabbi Metzger and Swami Daynand Sarawati – signed a declaration recognizing the values common to the "two most ancient religions in the world", condemning all religion-based violence, and announcing the formation of a permanent Jewish-Hindi committee. The event took place in a pleasant and vibrant atmosphere.
In a joint statement, Rabbi Metzger called for the formation of a religious organization under the auspices of the United Nations for the promotion of peace and understanding. He added that, in Hebrew, only one letter differentiates between "Jew" and "Indian", thus emphasizing the proximity of the two nations and their religions. Metzger invited his Hindu colleagues to visit Jerusalem for the continuation of the dialogue.
Sarawati noted that the Jewish-Hindu dialogue will serve as a milestone for others, and will promote understanding and a better environment for everyone. He further added, "I have always believed in peaceful co-existence in a multi-religious environment. All religions should respect common values and insist on compassion. Religious leaders bear the responsibility of leading their followers to a path of peace so that the world will become a safer place to live."