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The harmony of faith

Interfaith activities boost understanding, appreciation at Seabrook

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November 20th, 2012

Sheila Intner doesn t just rely on her own faith, Judaism, for her spiritual well-being. She relies on the interfaith harmony present at Seabrook, the Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls, N.J., where she lives. Sheila s sentiments ring true for many people at Seabrook, regardless of religion. That s why the Jewish community hosts activities open to all. And an interfaith committee hosts activities for all religions. We feel that all this promotes friendships and increases understanding of each other s religions, says Edith Cohen, president of the Seabrook Jewish community. We aren t segregated by religion here. It s wonderful.

Jewish events

The Jewish community hosts several annual and monthly activities that attract people of other faiths. Just as we respect other religions and want to know more about them, we feel others want to know more about ours, Sheila says of the Jewish community. With more knowledge comes more understanding. The monthly Jewish film series shows films with Jewish content and hosts 75 to 125 people in the Seabrook auditorium. We show films that either explain Judaism or describe or show something about Jewish life, or an Israeli film, says Sheila, who started the film series after moving to Seabrook from its sister community, Riderwood, about four years ago. Films have included Marjorie Morningstar, Exodus, Schindler s List, Sarah s Key, and Walk on Water, among others. We show a broad range of films, Sheila says. Residents most anticipate the Holocaust Memorial Day candle sale. Members of the Jewish community sell electric tea lights to honor the memories of 6,000,000 Jews, as well as millions of others who lost their lives during World War II. This year, Holocaust Memorial Day falls on April 7. Residents of all faiths purchase tea lights to display on the shelf outside their apartment door. You could see the candles twinkling on people s shelves as you walked through the community that night, Sheila says. Really, the bulk of the candles were bought by people who had served or people who had sympathetic feelings. They were very supportive. It was so heartwarming. The 2011 Hanukkah program invited the whole community to a free presentation by Rabbi Debbie Zecher of Hevreh of Southern Berkshire and her son Josh. They performed a cabaret show of music by Rodgers and Hammerstein and Rodgers and Hart. It was appealing to anyone who loves Broadway musicals. The response was overwhelming, Sheila says.

Interfaith activities

Interfaith activities, organized by an interfaith committee of Jews, Catholics, and Protestants, and led by Pastoral Ministries Director David Bowman, help build awareness and relationships among community members. Activities include interfaith seminars, which run once a week for four to five weeks during the summer. Most recently, they hosted an interfaith sing-a-long, which attracted approximately 200 people. Representatives from the various faiths led the audience in song and music. The interfaith committee consists of representatives from each faith community. The representatives meet to share activities and ideas for interfaith harmony. Annie Metz, the interfaith rep for the Jewish community, says the committee and its activities have helped raise awareness of religions throughout the community, enhancing quality and enjoyment of life for those living at Seabrook. We are all members of this world. We are all caring of one another here at Seabrook, she says. Sheila agrees: Interfaith is really a matter of understanding and appreciating our differences as well as our commonalities.

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