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Building bonds at ground-breaking interfaith retreat

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SOFIA ZWAY

The Open Mosque and Temple Israel once again pioneered a ground-breaking event at South Africa’s first interfaith retreat in Greyton in the Overberg area of the Western Cape, from September 16-19.

The get-together saw a gathering of Muslims, Jews and Christians – “The Abrahamic Family” – come together in faith and friendship for a weekend of living together, discussions and learning, and praying together.

There were sessions throughout the weekend on topics ranging in from gender and feminism to jihad and violence in Islam, to the issue of interfaith marriage. Conversations were thoughtful, fruitful and constructive.

Each faith led the participants in a prayer service, and the Jewish contingent were deeply moved by the emotional and positive response to the Kabbalat Shabbat service and dinner it led on the Friday night.

But the real “work” and intention of the weekend manifested around the fire late at night, as the faith groups acknowledged their similarities and common humanity and spontaneously made music together, singing in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

This was a highlight for many who attended and so inspiring that it moved participants to tears.

Sofia Zway Interfaith Retreat


PHOTOGRAPH: NIC PATON


Overall, the weekend was very well organised and a deeply moving experience for all. New connections were formed and new conversations started, and we are already looking forward to next year’s retreat.

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