Mutual respect among people: Thoughts from a recent interreligious conference

1 Comment 07 June 2016

Last week I was privileged to participate in an international interreligious conference in Kosovo. Three hundred men and women participated in this conference from all over the world.  I did not agree with all the speakers, neither did I have the opportunity to speak with all of them. But the most important part of the conference was the fact that there was great mutual respect among all the participants of the conference.


Engaging in this kind of interreligious dialogue is not always easy; in fact, sometimes it is very difficult. History—local and international—influences all of us. Nevertheless, the choice of whether or not to be part of this kind of encounter –and the conversations and gatherings included in it—give everyone the opportunity to take some deep breaths, to think deeply, and to listen carefully. In so doing, we all discovered that not everything is rosy, but we share the will and the common goal to make things better in this world.


In stark contrast, the Flag Parade in Jerusalem, represent the exact opposite of what I experience in the interreligious conference in Kosovo. The feeling of supremacy, the belief that there is no partner for peace, that everything belongs only to us, that only we deserve the land and the city of Jerusalem, does not create an environment for dialogue.

Yesterday (Sunday June 5th), I joined other members of the Tag Meir Forum in the distribution of flowers in the Old City of Jerusalem, especially in the area of the Nablus Gate, which leads to the Muslim quarter. In addition to the Palestinians to whom we gave flowers—in an effort  to show that not all Jews support the Flag Parade—we met many young Jews who had absolutely no understanding as to why we would be distributing flowers as a sign of goodwill to Palestinian Arabs. They showed no willingness to recognize the existence of the other, and no awareness that last night was the beginning of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.


Tag Meir activists distribute flowers in the Old City on Jerusalem Day

Religious identity can be an obstacle or a bridge to reach out to other people. The choice is ours. And it can influence all of our lives –all people who live in this city and this land—to a great extent.

Noa Mazor serves as Director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council, a department of Rabbis for Human Rights. She is a rabbinical student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, in her final year of studies for the rabbinate.

Your Comments

1 comment

  1. Manzoor says:

    Thank you Noa Mazor for your comments and offering flowers
    To Palestinians on start of Ramadan. Good effort to bring the
    Communities together.
    Kind regards

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