Interfaith group marks 9/11
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Interfaith group marks 9/11

The Ramapo Interfaith Clergy Association will host a "Service of Gathering Together for Remembering, for Justice, and for Peace," on Sunday at the Immaculate Conception church in Mahwah. Congregants from the Christian and Jewish communities of Mahwah, Ramsey, and Upper Saddle River will be joined by representatives of the Ramapo Indians and, the organizers hope, the Muslim community.

The event will be "a memorial place for people affected directly or indirectly by the events of 9/11," said Rabbi Joel Mosbacher of Temple Beth Haverim in Mahwah. "We want people to take away two main things: a reinvestment in being involved in community-building in our own area, and to find solace and strength through our joint community." Mosbacher, one of the event’s main organizers, is the only Jewish member of the group.

"It’s a particularly poignant moment for us to gather and look back and see what it is we’re doing to try to make peace and justice in the world, and move from prayer to action in whatever way we can," Mosbacher said.

The program will be divided into three segments. First will be remembrance, when participants will read aloud the names of people who died in the Sept. 11 attacks and those who survived the attacks, as well as the names of people who have served, are serving, or died during service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The names were solicited from the individual communities, said the Rev. Carol Brighton of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Ramsey. Other such names will be welcomed.

The next segment will be a time for justice, with readings and prayers for justice from the participating faiths. The service will close with readings for peace.

"It’s centered around the fifth anniversary [of Sept. 11] but expanded beyond," Brighton said. "It’s an opportunity for peace and justice.

The interfaith association was created shortly after Sept. 11 and gathers for Thanksgiving services, Martin Luther King Day, and an interfaith scholar-in-residence program. Its activities are kept on a very local level because its leaders want to address the issues and concerns of their own communities, Mosbacher said.

Sunday’s program will feature members of the different congregations leading prayers from their own faith-based traditions, either a meditation or another reading to promotoe peace, understanding, and healing, said the Rev. William Grob of Ramapo Reformed Church in Mahwah.

"Sept. 11 was an example of how hatred can destroy," Grob said. "We owe it to one another to try to promote peace and healing."

"We have some people in this area who lost family and friends in that tragedy," Brighton said. "Some of it is a means of comforting, an opportunity to heal some wounds."

Sunday’s service will be more than just an interfaith event, Brighton said. She hopes that it will also be an intercommunity event, bringing together the different geographic communities of northwest Bergen,as well as the religious communities.

Promoting peace is more than just praying for it, Mosbacher added. "Justice in the world is not only a passive, wishful, prayerful effort, but it is for active engagement," he said. Actions could include calling local representatives or U.S. senators or volunteering at food banks. The point is to not only pray and hope for justice but to do something about it, Mosbacher said.

Elsewhere in the county, Temple Beth El of Northern Valley in Closter will commemorate those who died on Sept. 11 during Shabbat services tonight at 7:30. Call (’01) 768-511′ for information.

Temple Sholom in River Edge will hold a memorial service on Monday, honoring all victims of terror, 8 p.m. Call (’01) 489-‘463 for information.

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