Northbrook faiths affirm unity with one another
Don Ferris, of the Christian Science Society, reads President Barack Obama's Thanksgiving Proclamation at this year's interfaith Community Thanksgiving Celebration, hosted by Congregation Beth Shalom Wednesday. | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 27, 2012 11:39AM
NORTHBROO0K — The melodic chants of prayers in ancient tongues rose last Wednesday from Congregation Beth Shalom in Northbrook as representatives of all the major religions in the village gathered to thank God, by whatever name they call him, for their brotherhood.
“Hiney ma tov uma na-im, shevet achim gam yachad,” sang Beth Shalom’s Cantor Steven Stoehr.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.”
Worshippers not only from local Jewish synagogues, but also from the Islamic, Baahai, Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian communities – all members of the Northbrook Clergy Association – gave thanks in different languages, as well as in English, for what they have that they hold dear.
“Whoever desires honor, then to Allah the honor belongs wholly. To Him do ascend the good words; and the good deeds, lift them up, and as for those who plan evil deeds, they shall have a severe chastisement, and as for their plan, it shall perish,” read Iman Amir Caus of the Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago from the Qur’an.
The religions also celebrated their unity in diversity, focusing on what they have in common rather than how they differ, said Beth Shalom’s Senior Rabbi Carl Wolkin.
Mayor Sandra Frum, who also addressed the close to 230 who attended the service, noted that more than 20 religious groups call Northbrook home, and their representatives have worked for years to further their understanding of each other.
“We believe the work of righteousness shall be peace,” she added, referring to the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East involving religious groups.
In contrast, Northbrook’s interfaith relationships have been progressing harmoniously for about 25 years, said Wolkin.
“Within the community, the word is ‘unity.’ Unfortunately, the conflict is not just in Israel, the whole Middle East is in an uproar. But anywhere we can bring divided people together is a great achievement,” he added.
Village Presbyterian Church Pastor Gregory Buell noted that the religious communities here were celebrating a unique situation.
“As a suburb, we have a mosque, synagogues and churches. And we have a long history of collaboration,” he said.
“Individually, we were good,” said the Rev. Michael Nevling, also of Village Presbyterian, who delivered the Thanskgiving message. “But together we are something else.”
A monetary collection that was taken up at the service will be donated to the Emergency Assistance Serving Northbrook and Glenview, and the canned food that was brought by those who attended will go to the ARK and the Northfield Township Food Pantry.