Interfaith vigil for peace draws 350 to Emanu-El

"These are the people who believe in the power of prayer and believe in God, so we thought it would be a useful thing," said Rabbi Stephen Pearce, senior rabbi of Emanu-El.

"The gathering was specifically to call for an end to the violence and for peace," said Pearce.

Some 35 clergy of different faiths came, all bringing with them a poem or prayer to recite. Each one was supposed to speak only a minute or two, but "with them all being clergy members, they tended to run from five to seven minutes," Pearce joked. The proceedings lasted longer three hours.

Several clergy read poems by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, but there were also Catholic prayers for peace and Buddhist chants. There were stories told about loving one's neighbor as oneself.

"Essentially, we were looking for a nonpolitical way to express our concerns," said Pearce.

Clergy of other faiths, as well as their congregants, have wanted to reach out to the Jewish community, particularly recently, but were unsure how to do so, Pearce said.

"We're often so insular that we forget we have interfaith brethren out there who are keen observers of what's going on in the world," he added.

About half of those in attendance were from other congregations.

Pearce said that he worked at establishing relationships with clergy of other faiths, "not only because they're wonderful people but more because at a time like this, they come."

— Alexandra J. Wall