Following an attack in June 2015 on a church on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel, the Elijah Interfaith Institute has launched a campaign to restore the friendship centre at the church where inter-religious meetings take place.
The Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish, at Tabgha, was set on fire and anti-Christian graffiti in Hebrew scrawled on the wall, drawing condemnation from a broad range of Israel’s politicians.
Dr Goshen-Gottstein, Executive Director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, an organization dedicated to fostering peace between faith communities, called for a response that went beyond mere condemnation. The graffiti, an excerpt from the Jewish prayer of Aleinu, demonstrated that the attack was religious rather than political. Fearing that Israeli Orthodoxy has lost its Jewish sensitivity to other faiths, Dr Goshen-Gottstein intends the campaign to be a constructive response.
Ranjan Solomon of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF), an initiative of the World Council of Churches (WCC), comments that the campaign is about delivering an educational message: ‘It is also a message to the world that the Judaism that leads to the burning of churches (and mosques) is not our own. It is a way of expressing concrete support for friendship between religions and of demonstrating what kind of Judaism we believe in.’
While the campaign to restore the church is pitched at the Jewish community, all those who wish to contribute are welcome. More details are on the Mimoona website. There is also a news story on the Times of Israel website.