Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger made a touching reference to the lasting contribution made by the BJP leader L.K. Advani in furthering the friendship and co-operation between India and Israel. The Chief Rabbi, the highly regarded Jewish pontiff, was lavish in his praise for India'sLeader of Opposition, as he was speaking at a dinner hosted at the Prithviraj Road residence of the BJP leader.
The Chief Rabbi said, ?It is seldom that I go to somebody'sresidence to participate in a reception. Our custom does not allow this. But, here, I came to Shri L.K. Advani'sresidence, as if I were going to my own home. It is a debt that we owe to the leader. As India'sInternal Minister, he was the first Indian top official to visit Israel. He played a major and sustained role in furthering and cementing the relations between the two countries. We immensely value this gesture. Our people are greatly indebted to India. This is one country where Jews were never persecuted and enjoyed great hospitality. It is as a mark of gratitude that I am here, in this dinner, hosted in my honour.?
The Opposition Leader'sresidence became a meeting place for the religious heads of three major faiths in the world, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. It was a pleasant surprise for everybody, Indian Muslim scholars and theologians met Israeli Jewish Rabbis on the night of February 6 to call for peace in West Asia at this dinner. RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri Suresh Soni was also present at the dinner. The Chief Rabbi of Israel was joined by several senior Rabbis from European countries and Israeli Ambassador David Danieli. Muslim scholars from India included Prof. Akhtar-ul-Wasey, director, Jamia Milia Islamia, Sirajuddin Qureshi, President of India Islamic Cultural Centre, Wasi Ahmed Nomani, Jurist, Jameeluddin Iiyasi president of All India Imams Organisation and Umer Ilyasi, president, Sufi Sant Sangam.
Highly respected leaders of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha including Swami Dayananda Saraswati was also present on the occasion.
Shri Bawa Jain, secretary general of World Council of Religious Leaders (WCORL), that organised the three-day Hindu-Jewish Leadership Summit said the conference would not have been possible but for the help of the Leader of Opposition. He recalled the sterling leadership qualities of the BJP leader and his tireless endeavour towards unity of religions, interfaith dialogue and peace among faiths.
Shri Advani, in his brief welcome speech, emphasised the great Indian tradition of equal respect to all faiths. He said, the distortion of Indian secularism had reached a stage where, secularism has come to mean a state eschewing religion. The language of religion has a significant role in shaping the character of the state. It is not a state without religion, but a state that respects all religions, that is at the essence of secularism. The distortion and intolerance to religion have come because of the spell of Marxism on Indian political leadership, he said.
The World Council of Religious Leaders and All India Movement for Seva effectuated the signing of a declaration between Hindu and Jewish leaders in New Delhi on February 6. The protocol of co-operation was signed between Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger and Swami Dayanand Saraswati, convener of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha in the presence of leaders of both the ways of worship.
Highlighting the objective of the summit, which began on February 5 at Hotel Taj Palace, Shri Bawa Jain, said the world is facing innumerous conflicts and unresolved differences globally. ?Since 82 per cent of the world follows different faiths and looks up to the religious leaders to guide them spiritually, this conclave propagates and promotes the message of peace and harmony. Hinduism and Judaism are followed world over and our aim is to show that the road to prosperity is built on the strong foundation of peace and harmony,? he added.
The declaration primarily acknowledges the shared values of the two traditions, as well as the common challenges. It condemned all forms of religious violence. In the declaration both the Hindu and Jewish leaders affirmed the sanctity of life and aspired for a society in which all live in peace and harmony with one another. Both the Hindu and Jewish traditions also realised the need to educate the present and succeeding generations about their past so that they make right efforts to promote religious harmony. The representatives agrred to constitute a standing committee on Hindu-Jewish relations.
After signing the declaration, Swami Dayanand Saraswati said the Hindu-Jewish dialogue would act as a benchmark for others to follow and emulate, resulting in better environment for one and all. ?I have always believed in peaceful co-existence in a multi-religion environment, which thrives on each other. This development is a step in this direction and I am happy the Chief Rabbi has joined hands in this movement,? he added. He further said each tradition should respect the common values. The religious heads have great responsibility to lead the people of their respective traditions. Since, we don'twant to get hurt or cheated, we should not hurt or cheat others.
Lauding the efforts of WCORL, Rabbi Yona Metzger said though inter-religious dialogue has increased recently, the Hindu-Jewish declaration is a significant move, which highlights the necessity of expanding interfaith community to eastern traditions. ?For thousands of years we have marched on parallel causes and now built bridges of cooperation between the two religions. Jews have lived in India for 2,000 years and have never been discriminated against. This is something unparalleled in human history,? added Rabbi Yona Metzger.
The Indian Council of Religious Leaders organised a meeting of various religious leaders belonging to different faiths at Oberoi hotel on February 7. The religious leaders representing Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Judaism passed a resolution resolving for unity and universal peace. The leaders unanimously said without peace and unity the world cannot face the global challenges. Besides the Hindu and Jewish leaders who had been attending the conference since February 5, Maulana Zameeluddin Ilyasi, president of All India Imams Organisation, Bishop Anil, representative of Arch Bishop Delhi, Dr Manjit Singh, former chief of Akal Takht, Gurudwara Anandpur Sahib, Shri B.K. Modi, noted industrialist and Buddhist leader were among the prominent leaders who attended the conference.
The Jewish delegation included Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Shri Oded Wiener, Chief Rabbi David Rosen, Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber, Rabbi Dr Israel Singer, Rabbi Moshe Garelik, Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui, Chief Rabbi Isak Haleve and Chief Rabbi Benito Garcon-Serfaty. The representatives of the Jewish community in India included Shri Solomon Sopher, Rabbi Abraham Benjamin, Shri Benjamin Reuben, Shri Ezra Moses, Shri Issac Samson, Rabbi Joshua Kolet, Lt. Gen. (retd) JFR Jacob, Shri Ezekial Malekar, Shri Nissim Moses.
The prominent Indian Hindu leaders associated with the conference included Kanchi Shankaracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswati, Swami Chidanand, Dr Pranav Pandya, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Maheshwaranand, Swami Vishwesh Teertha, Swami Balagangadharanath, Swami Avimuk-tesvaranand Saraswati, Shri La Sri Nachippa Jnana Desika Swamigal, Shri Murli Madhav Priyadas, Swami Sachi-dananda Saraswati, Swami Vidyaranya Bharati, Sadhu Atmaswarupdas, Swami Vishveshwaranand, Swami Gurusharanand Giri, Swami Hansadas, Swami Maheshwaranand Puri, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Viditatma-nand Saraswati, Swami Chidrupanand Saraswati, Swami Sarvabhutanand, Swami Aparoksanand, Swami Prabhu-ddhanand, Swami Sambuddhanand and Swami Nityabuddhanand. Noted jurist Shri L.M. Singhvi and columnist and BJP leader Shri Balbir Punj also participated in the summit.