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A Rabbi, an Imam and a Catholic discuss their Faiths’ teachings on violence
By: MARLENE QUARONI - MIAMI SHORES
Florida Catholic Of Miami Newspaper
Panelists Rabbi Mario Rojzman, Imam Shaikh Shafayat and Ed Sunshine answering questions during an interfaith discussion on “Killing in the Name of God” held Oct. 30 at Barry University in Miami Shores
There wouldn’t be so many wars if people understood each other, said Rabbi Mario Rojzman of Temple Beth Torah, Benny Rok Campus, on North Miami Beach. “We must begin to teach a new generation of children to work together,” he told about 50 Barry University students and staff gathered for an interfaith panel discussion Oct. 30 entitled “Killing in the Name of G-d: Perspective in the Abrahamic Faiths.” Rabbi Rojzman, Edward Sunshine, associate professor of theology at Barry, and Imam Shaikh Shafayat, principal of Darul Uloom Institute, Pembroke Pines, discussed how the three religions of Abraham — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — dealt with violence and war. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Rabbi Rojzman served for 11 years as rabbi at Bet El, Argentina’s largest conservative congregation. He said interfaith dialogue is important to him. In 1998, Bishop Justo Laguna of the Diocese of Moron, near Buenos Aires, invited Rabbi Rojzman to participate in an interfaith memorial service to honor 104 people killed in the bombings of the Israeli embassy and Argentine Jewish Federation. Afterward, Bishop Laguna asked the rabbi to visit the Vatican with him. Rabbi Rojzman agreed, on one condition. “Only if you join me first in Jerusalem,” he said. A few weeks later, the two were in Jerusalem, site of their common religious heritage. They visited a Holocaust memorial, the Wailing Wall, the Via Dolorosa and the Holy Sepulcher. Later, they had an audience with Pope John Paul II in Rome. Their journey is chronicled in a book titled, “All Roads Lead to Jerusalem … And Also to Rome.” Muslim cleric Iman Shafayat lectures at the Pembroke Pines Police training programs on cultural diversity, community awareness, human rights, crime and terrorism. Few people realize the connection between the major religions, he said. “At a recent lecture, I asked how many know who Abraham was,” said the Trinidad native. “Only one person raised their hand. I told them that you must understand another person’s culture in order to respect them.”
God created different people so they’d learn to love one another, said the imam. “The Quran states that the prophets were brothers,” he said. “Their faith is one. Islam stands for the oneness of God.” Christianity has taken different stances on violence through the ages, said Sunshine, from the pacifism of the early Christians to the violence of the Crusaders, the acceptance of slavery and forced conversions. “Nowadays, Christian churches are saying the only reason to go to war is in self-defense,” Sunshine said. “And Christian churches have objected to the death penalty and to the use of nuclear weapons.” Rabbit Rojzman said he looks forward to the day when nations and religions will build bridges between each other instead of resorting to violence. Different religions have different ways of practicing their faith, the rabbi noted. “I’m not the owner of truth,” he said. “I’m the seeker of truth. I need to give you room to develop your own spirituality.”
Posing for a photo after the panel discussion on “Killing in the Name of God,” held Oct. 30 at Barry University, from left: Rabbi Mario Rojzman of Temple Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus, North Miami Beach, Imam Shaikh Shafayat of the Darul Uloom Institute in Pembroke Pines, and Ed Sunshine, associate professor of theology at Barry.