Sunday, February 14
by John Hyde, Interfaith Study Group
In April 2011, I signed up for the Transformational Journey to Manzanar hosted by All Saints Church. I’d driven by Manzanar many times but there wasn’t much to see and before you knew it you were already past the road marker. When we arrived, we drove by the guard tower and joined many Japanese Americans and others who come here every year to remember this Internment Camp that housed 10,000 Japanese families from 1941 to the end of the war. I didn’t know there were so many incarcerated here and this was just one of many camps across the country. After visiting the museum and one of the wood and tarpaper barracks we gathered for a memorial service and a remembrance of their experience.
Sitting in the desert heat with the blowing sand we listened to several speakers describing their brutal struggle, their losses, utter humiliation and coming together to survive. Topaz, at the Nevada border was a colder, harsher camp that awaited them if they complained or their sons and husbands did not volunteer to serve in the military. It was disturbing to hear some survivors calling it a Concentration Camp. Manzanar’s message was very clear: Although Americans are generous, loving, caring people, fear of the other causes us to be bigoted, cruel and punitive.
The last two speakers were the most memorable. They were not Japanese but courageous young Palestinian women. They urged us to remember what was learned that day and share it with everyone we knew so that Manzanar is never repeated. Considering today’s political climate, fear of the other is growing as well as the possible resurgence of another Manzanar.
My Manzanar experience rejuvenated my interest in the Interfaith Study Group as I knew little about Islam or Muslim people. As Reza Aslan stated recently in the Rector’s Forum, getting past our fear of the other isn’t a matter of studying facts, but a matter of the heart; a personal connection through relationship building. I found the Interfaith Study Group an ideal place to develop those relationships.
Monthly meetings rotate each month between Church, Mosque and Temple providing a safe and respectful place for everyone to listen to knowledgeable speakers, explore various faiths and beliefs with people from those faith traditions. Meeting Muslims and Jews face to face made it very clear that their values are very similar to my own. The idea of “the other” became absurd. Any concerns I had vanished in the reality that Islam and Judaism were all about loving God and your neighbor. Truly we are all God’s children and we need each other to survive. But getting past the obstacle of fear requires making the choice to meet and understand the other.
On Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, the Interfaith Study Group will be hosting “An Interfaith Journey to All Saints”. Muslims, Christians and Jews will attend the 11:15 service to explore All Saints, its Anglican faith tradition, its mission, and how All Saints lives out its mission. At the end we’ll see a short video and get to know one another as we chat with All Saints staff member Susan Russell over a light lunch.
Because this is a special event we have to limit attendance to 50 people. If you or someone you know would like to attend, please reserve your space by clicking here and filling in the short registration form.
Please join us for your own Interfaith Journey as we change the human race into the human family.
Salaam, Shalom, Peace
For more information on the Interfaith Study Group, visit our website or contact Ada Ramirez at email@example.com or 626.583. 2734