In The Tent of AbrahamA statement on peacemaking was made at the “The Tent of Abraham” website welcoming all those who thirst and hunger for justice, peace, and dignity, to join in affirming their statement. And so we heeded the call and participated in the local “Tent of Abraham” hosted on October 4th at Calvary Church in Santa Cruz.
Members of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish community attended as well as people from various other faith traditions.
What brought us together was simple: the desire for creating more “well worn paths between huts”—a chance to continue the efforts to build bridges of respect and understanding among the families of Abraham.
This was a very auspicious time of year to celebrate together as within the Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions it was a shared time of celebration.

As the Holy month of Ramadan was concluding, the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Jewish Festival of Sukko, known as “The Season of our Rejoicing” was wrapping as well. The topic of interest on this particular evening was ”The Sabbath, The Holy Day of Rest” from the perspective of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Father Joel, of the Calvary Church, began the evening with, what I believe, was a Turkish welcome and expression of gratitude for all to be gathered in the name of peace and friendship.

Sheila Leich, representing the Christian community from the Diocese of Monterey, gave a beautiful historical retrospective of how Sundays became the Lord’s Day for the Christians.

Linda LeRose, from the Jewish community (joined by Rabbi Paula Marcus of Temple Beth El), brought us into the Jewish tradition of Shabbat (beginning at sundown on Friday night) when we leave off the world and enter “The Sacred “ of the Sabbath, with the covering of eyes during the recitation of the Shabbat prayers while lighting the candles…

Fatih, from the Pacifica Institute, presented an informative and spirited talk on the various sacred cycles within the year according to the Islamic tradition starting with Ramadan. He then described the various stages within the month, the day and finally, the hour.

Then Nihat, from the Pacifica Institute, presented a very moving “call to prayer” from the Islamic tradition. And the Women were invited into the women’s prayer room and the men into the men’s. According to Islamic tradition, the Muslim community took to the three positions of prayer: responsibility, submission and annihilation.

After the prayer, we walked together to the sanctuary that was beautifully decorated and transformed into the “Tent of Abraham” which was open in all four sides just like Abraham’s.

Afterwards, we joined in song with Fr. Cyprian Consiglio (a Camaldolese monk and ordained priest from the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, also representing Sangha Shantivanam from Santa Cruz) and Lori Rivera. Fr. Cyprian wrote an original song especially for this event honoring the sacred words from the Islamic “Bismillah” chant.
Then Fr. Cyprian sang the Beatitudes from the New Testament and shared a beautiful talk on what he believed to be the common golden threads that joined Judaism, Christianity and Islam; and those being devotion and surrender.

Rabbi Paula Marcus presented the Jewish tradition associated with the holiday of Sukkos. Each day of Sukkos accompanied by prayer, the Lulav, Hadass, Aravah and Esrog* are waved gently in every direction; right, left, forward, up, down, and to the rear, to show that Hashem is truly everywhere.

Following Rabbi Paula Marcus, Nihat recited Islamic prayers with Ziya translating so we could all enjoy the spiritual truths being offered…

In between each presenter was a lovely period of silence to reflect. We ended our time in the sanctuary with a group song led by Lori Rivera. What followed was a truly amazing banquet for all to enjoy as new friendships were made and conversations continued.
It seems that we are in the “bridge-building” business together!
May we each experience the abundance of our shared intention toward peace for all. With deep gratitude to all who joined hearts and hands to make this the beautiful gathering that it was.
by Sarojani Rohan and Sangha Shantivanam

*Lulav, Hadass, Aravah and Etrog are four species to celeberate Sukkot.

Lulav – a ripe, green, closed frond from a date palm tree –shaped like the spine, stand up for what is good.
Hadass– boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree – shaped like the eyes to see the goodness in every person.
Aravah – branches with leaves from the willow tree –shaped like the lips to speak goodness.
Etrog – the fruit of a citron tree-shaped like the heart to remind us to be openhearted and kind.
All four of them are waved together in six directions in Jewish tradition to remind that God is all around.