Nebraska interfaith event to be webcast live March 27

March 25, 2009

Leaders of the three great faiths that trace their heritage back to Abraham -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- will gather on March 27 in Omaha, Nebraska to talk about peace. The program will be broadcast live via the Internet.

The groundbreaking event, called "Dinner in Abraham's Tent," will draw 1,000 persons to the Qwest Conference Center. The webcast will begin at 8:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time/9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time and may be viewed at www.trifaith.org.

The "conversation on peace" will involve Rabbi Peter Knobel, immediate past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America.

The conversation, a worship service and dinner is the inaugural public event of the TriFaith Initiative, a partnership of Omaha's Temple Israel, the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, and the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture.

ENS reported on the TriFaith Initiative in a story on February 26 here.

Prior to the webcast portion of the program, guests will participate in a service designed to give a true sense of the worship practices of the three faith communities, said Nancy Kirk, executive director of the TriFaith Initiative.

There will be a full Shabbat service by Temple Israel, an Episcopal Evening Prayer service with Bishop Joe Burnett of the Diocese of Nebraska, and Salat al Asr, the Muslim afternoon prayer service.

"Everyone will get to see how everyone else prays, follow along with the words in Hebrew, English and Arabic, and participate in the unison prayers as they feel comfortable to do so," said Kirk.

With more then 1,000 attending, the event is sold out, said organizers.

"You could say this dinner has been 6,000 years in the planning," said Bob Freeman, chair of the TriFaith board of directors.

Freeman explained that Muslims trace their lineage through Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar, while Jews and therefore Christians, trace their lineage from Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah.

"But we all trace back to Abraham, the father of both lines, and our traditions all say that Isaac and Ishmael came back together to bury their father," said Freeman.

Of the three branches of the Abrahamic tradition, Judaism became formalized more then 5,700 years ago, Christianity about 2,000 years ago, and Islam about 1,500 years ago.

"On March 27 we are bringing the family back together again," said Freeman.

"Dinner in Abraham's Tent" is the first public step in a plan in developing an interfaith campus which will include separate houses of worship for the three faith groups and a center for interfaith collaboration and learning.

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