News Release

Interfaith Celebration at Jewish Synagogue

Over one dozen LDS missionary couples joined in celebrating the first evening of Sukkoth, the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacle, on Sunday, 27 September in Parktown.

The event, held at Beit Emanuel Progressive Jewish Synagogue, included members of numerous faiths, including Jews, Mormons, Catholics, Anglicans, Dutch Reformed, Hindus, Muslims and several Hare Krishna.

Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked delivered a special invitation to President Robert Eppel, President of the Johannesburg Temple, which was readily accepted and embraced, not only by President Eppel, but by many missionary couples who were anxious to participate in this sacred celebration.

Prayer books were distributed upon entering the synagogue, and men were invited to place yarmulkes on the crown of their head. Following along in the prayer book from right to left, the multi-faith congregation recited prayers in both Hebrew and English, as Rabbi Shaked led the recitation.

A beautiful choir of men and women filled the air with melodic Hebrew tunes, which also followed the text of the Torah. There was even time for clapping of hands in time to the music, both by the choir and the congregation.

Following the meeting, guests were invited to enter the “impermanent” tabernacle, which represented the tabernacles which the children of Israel built during their 40-year trek through the wilderness, under the leadership of Moses.

A kosher buffet meal was served to everyone, and provided the opportunity for missionaries to sit side-by-side those of various faiths, especially the Jewish members, and share those values that are common throughout all religions. There were some wonderful conversations expressed and friendships made.

Rabbi Shaked is passionate about building strong interfaith relations, and the warm reception given to all by his Jewish congregation was positively received.

Elder and Sister Berg, Public Affairs missionaries for the LDS Church, were quoted as saying, “We met some wonderful people who became instant friends. Differences in religious beliefs should not divide us - they should bring us closer together as we respect each other.” They accepted the Rabbi’s invitation to attend an upcoming Choral Concert, which will further strengthen ties between the Jewish and Mormon faiths in the area.

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