(USA) Why these friends have launched an interfaith group

WordForPeace.com

Friends Soraya Deen and Marsha Novak knew they hit a chord last year when more than 500 people marched in the scorching heat in what they billed as the first interfaith solidarity march in the San Fernando Valley.

Then the community called for more.

Now, Deen, a Muslim, and Novak, a Jew, have founded the Interfaith Solidarity Network to promote continued interfaith unity and action in the Valley.

“I think we have to move beyond dialogue to action,” said Deen, an international activist and president of the new Interfaith Solidarity Network. “We have done so much dialogue and still there is so much brokenness. What can unite us quicker and deeper is action.”

The goal is to foster “personal transformation,” Deen said, while sending a strong message that despite having different faiths, “we are there for each other.”

Friends Marsha Novak, a Jew, and Soraya Deen, a Muslim, have founded an interfaith solidarity group in the San Fernando Valley .

Novak, a member of Temple Judea in Tarzana, said creating such an organization is something she has wanted to do for many years. She was active in the Valley Interfaith Council, which she described as the interfaith voice in the Valley, for a decade.

In the last several years, the Council – which was launched in the mid-1960s – has evolved into a social service organization, leaving an interfaith void in the Valley, she said.

“We have a lot of clergy on our (Interfaith Solidarity Network) board and they are very, very committed to this whole concept,” Novak said.

Among the organization’s first priorities is organizing a second annual interfaith solidarity march on Oct. 28 that will attract thousands of community members.

The group also wants to put on conferences, hold study groups or home dialogues, and honor individuals who engage in interfaith activities.

The Venerable Shantha Sobhana, a Buddhist monk who sits on the organization’s board of directors, believes the group has the potential to make a difference.

The Venerable Shantha Sobhana, a Buddhist monk who presides over the Shanthis Nikethanaya Buddhist Center in West Hills, is among the board members of the new Interfaith Solidarity Network, June 13, 2018. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)
The Venerable Shantha Sobhana, a Buddhist monk who presides over the Shanthis Nikethanaya Buddhist Center in West Hills, is among the board members of the new Interfaith Solidarity Network, June 13, 2018. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)

Problems among people are often a result of misunderstandings that stem from mistaken beliefs about others, he said. The more harmony and unity there is among religious leaders, he said, the more there will be among their followers.

“If we can come together and have a better understanding of each other, that will bring harmony to the community,” he said.

This is particularly true, he said, because the foundation of society is religion.

Woodland Hills resident Keri Bennett, a sales representative, was excited to hear the news as she walked her two dogs on Burbank Boulevard one recent afternoon.

“The way the world is right now, we need to have love,” Bennett said, citing the April arrest of two African American men who were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia minutes after they sat down without ordering something. “We need to have love and peace and respect for each other.”

The Interfaith Solidarity Network, a not-for-profit organization, is currently seeking charitable status with the Internal Revenue Service, according to the board.

Deen, who is also founder of the Muslim Women Speakers Movement, said one of her motivations is that she has seen religion used in too many countries as a powerful tool to divide people.

“Everyone is fighting over something and the root of it is religion,” she said. “People need to have a level of understanding that there are people of other faiths and we can get along.”

Source: https://www.dailynews.com/2018/06/17/why-these-friends-have-launched-an-interfaith-group-in-the-valley/

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