Interfaith service hosted by Temple Beth Shalom – Press of Atlantic City

Posted By on December 5, 2019

A major beacon that the holiday season is underway is Brigantine's annual interfaith service, which alternates between the city's houses of worship each year, and welcomes members of all congregations and religious affiliations.

Temple Beth Shalom synagogue hosted this year's service to a capacity crowd on Nov. 26. Attendees sang America the Beautiful and other songs, and joined in the readings of psalms, scriptures and prayers.

Temple Beth Shalom President Jack Lieberman opened the service by welcoming all in attendance. He thanked Madeline Harvey, Gloria Jacoby, Donna Jordan and others for their efforts in coordinating the service, and thanked Brigantine's city officials for encouraging fellowship among the city's religious denominations.

Brigantine is a place that fosters friendship, sisterhood and brotherhood, Lieberman said. I'm not naive enough to believe that there are not those who are biased in the town, but I do believe that the town has an atmosphere that sponsors and promotes fellowship, and for that we thank our city government.

And thank you, he added. Your coming here tonight, your caring, your wanting to share your Thanksgiving spirit, your wanting to thank a power higher than all of us, really makes this a wonderful evening.

Temple Beth Shalom Rabbi Gerald Fox followed with A Prayer for Our Country, and later delivered a sermon entitled Elevating the Everyday, in which he stated, in part:

It seems that every day our senses are assaulted by a warping of our shared values. Our civility, the marker of our humanity, is diminished by harsh words and mean acts, and those who purport that this is an acceptable new normal. Thankfully, there are those of us who have stepped forward to call out such purveyors of hate, and speak to the importance of healing our communities, our nation and our world.

It's hard, though, to subject oneself even to the awareness of what some individuals want to be the new normal lying, stealing, stymied voices, inequality among people, cruelty, and even the supposed shared destruction of this planetary Garden of Eden in our universe called Earth that God has made, he continued. Many of us lack the self-esteem, the know-how or the access to power to make a real difference on a bigger stage, so what do we have to do? For some of us the answer is to become more involved in sharing the visions of each other and how we live.

We must remember that there are many ways to bring holiness into this world, he said. Perhaps a powerful way is to remember to love our neighbor as ourselves. And an easy way to do this is to remember the words of Rabbi Ferdinand Isserman, who altered the words just slightly often attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order: 'Focus your role as if everything depended upon God; act as if everything depended upon you.'

Others who spoke or led the group in prayer were Mayor Andy Simpson; Rev. John Scotland and Elder Sue Schilling of Community Presbyterian Church; Father Ed Maher, Father Jose Thomas, Deacon Len Long and Madeline Harvey of St. Thomas Catholic Church; longtime Temple Beth Shalom congregation member Betty Chaikin; and True Spirit Coalition representative Tom Park.

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Interfaith service hosted by Temple Beth Shalom - Press of Atlantic City

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