An self-proclaimed atheist, 53-year-old Debbie Rozanski, didn’t think she’d attend a church but found herself sitting in a pew last week.

Rozanski was among the four dozen people who congregated at the Miami Lakes Congregational Church where Muslims, Jews, Christians and even the secular joined under one veil — peace.

“I like to see people coming together for a common cause,” Rozanski, who later called herself a humanist, said. “What they call prayer, I call wishes.”

The interfaith prayer vigil was one of many seen popping up recently in South Florida by people who wish to find an end to the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

The latest outbreak of violence in southern Lebanon was triggered by the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah guerrillas.

”The root of conflict is the failure to have dialogue, to simply talk to one another,” said Jack Lieberman of the Jewish Arab Dialogue Association.

”One makes peace with enemies, not with friend. We need to engage in meaningful, respectful dialogue if we want to see change.”

Altaf Ali, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, along with Rabbi Rebecca Lillian of Temple Beth Or helped organize the prayer for peace. The Rev. Jeffrey Frantz of the United Church of Christ was the night’s host.

Salaam, Arabic for peace, and Shalom, Hebrew for peace, was repeated and served as the vigil’s slogan as Andy Sussman, a Jewish folksinger and members of the three faiths sang uplifting and hopeful melodies. Raa’id Khan, 20, a member of Florida Association of Young Muslims, took the floor with spoken word poetry.

At the vigil was Bob Graham, former Florida governor and U.S. senator, who spoke about the political history of the Middle East and offered insight into the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. Graham, who is also a member of the Congregational Church, 6701 Miami Lakeway S., thought the idea of bringing different people together sent a strong message.

More than a week has gone since the United Nations’ plan for a cease-fire was passed but the truce appears to be on shaky ground. On Monday, President Bush spoke on the need to quickly deploy an international peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon to enforce the U.N. cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah.

“It’s taken 61 years to realize common sense is not common anymore,” said 65-year-old Larry Wulkan, who considers himself a secular Jew. “People don’t think. What’s the point of Hezbollah and Israel to fight?”

Muhammed Malik, 24, agreed that coming together in faith was a start.

“It’s not a clash of religions that’s the issue; it’s the self-interest of fundamentalists, moderates, liberals and neoconservatives using religion to force wars upon people and states — that’s the problem,” he said.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.