Submitted by Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp
On Monday, December 12th, representatives of different faiths walked from the former Portuguese synagogue of 1726, now the liberal Jewish community. Then they moved to the Kloosterkerk, which was built in the 13th Century as a Catholic church, but is now in Protestant use and frequented by the Dutch royal family. Finally, the participants in the Peace Walk moved on to the Central Mosque, situated in a building that served as an Orthodox synagogue until the early 1970’s. There a festive meal was served.
The first-ever Interfaith Solidarity Walk in The Hague was organized by Stek, an umbrella organization for church activities in Holland, Islam and Dialogue and the Jacob Soetendorp institute for Human Values. There was a general feeling among all the participants that event was a great success, and a shared hope that such actions will become a regular expression of the sense of solidarity and common purpose shared by the members of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other faith communities in the Netherlands and hopefully, far beyond.
Faith and Leadership Course Completed
On Monday night the 19th of December 15 young leaders in the interfaith movement completed a course on faith and leadership at The Hague Institute of Higher Learning. The last night of the course was held in a festive atmosphere and included music and lectures, including one by renowned photographer Eddy Seesing, who recently opened an exhibition entitled Religion Now. The exhibition included portraits of 70 religious leaders performing rituals including Rabbi Raphael Evers (a prominent Orthodox rabbi in Amsterdam who, like Rabbi Soetendorp, has been active in working to improve Muslim-Jewish relations in The Netherlands), and myself.
While taking part in the course, the young leaders visited houses of worship of Judaism Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. The municipality of The Hague subsidized the course as a pilot project, and are very interested in its continuation
Kosher and Hallal Slaughtering Upheld in The Netherlands
In late December, a law spearheaded by the Party for the Protection of Animals to outlaw the ritual slaughtering of animals in The Netherlands was defeated by a wide margin in the Upper House (Senate) of the Dutch Parliament, after having passed the Lower House by a large majority last June.
This successful outcome to this legislative battle could not have been achieved without the growing cooperation between the Jewish and Muslim community and united efforts by interfaith organizations.