"Shared struggles" forum to tackle faiths’ differences, similarities – Charleston Post Courier

Posted By on July 30, 2017

The Summerville and North Area Jewish Community doesn't have a temple or a synagogue, but it still has a meaningful place to meet.

The community has partnered with Summerville's Community Resource Center and the Charleston Jewish Community Center Without Walls to offer a series of ecumenical programs exploring faith, history and community.

The next will take place Sunday, July 30 from 5-7 p.m. and will focus on the shared struggles of Christians, Jews and Muslims, said Robin Wittenberg Dudley, a volunteer with the community group.

Panel participants will include Abraham Belanger, pastor of the First Fruits Community Church in Summerville, Rabbi Greg Kanter of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in Charleston, and Aisha Miller of the .Central Mosque of Charleston

Patrick Labbe, who founded the Summerville and North Area Jewish Community group eight years ago, came up with the idea and will moderate.

"We do have shared struggles," Labbe said. "I liken what is happening to Muslims in our country as similar to what happened to Jews in Germany before the Holocaust: the demonization of people."

Dudley agreed. "We felt like the Muslim community is growing enough in the Charleston area that they need some understanding about the struggles we all face, not just because of religion but because of our heritage and culture."

Muslims remain only a tiny slice of South Carolina's population. The Pew Research Center's recent Religious Landscape Study put the number of Muslims at less than 1 percent. Jews make up about 1 percent of the state's population, while 78 percent identify as Christian.

Labbe said the Summerville and North Area Jewish Communitygroup originally started as a sort of social club to connect Jews in the Summerville area, but it has grown and begun to work with other social justice and community organizations. For instance, next month it will participate in a back-to-school event from 2-5 p.m. Aug. 20 at Doty Park with three local African-American community groups.

"Our purpose is to bring the community together, to make a difference in the community," he said. "I believe the old saying if we don't stand together, we fall separately."

The programs are part of the Summerville CommUNITY Artists Heritage Series.

Sunday's session will take place at the Saul Alexander Masonic Hall, 111 North Main St. in Summerville. The event is free, and food and beverages will be sold there.

Reach Robert Behreat 843-937-5771. Follow him on Twitter @RobertFBehre.

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"Shared struggles" forum to tackle faiths' differences, similarities - Charleston Post Courier

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