Feb. 5, 2005 On Friday night a kind of history was made when Imam Yahya Hendi took the pulpit at the St. Thomas Synagogue during the Sabbat service.
Hendi, who is on St. Thomas at the request of Rabbi Arthur Starr, made the idea of peace in the Middle East seem easily attainable as he delivered a message of commonality and mutual concern.
Hendi took the leaders of the Islamic world and Israel to task saying it was their responsibility to lead people toward understanding of and compassion for one another. He accused some "crazy" people, including Osama Bin Laden, of "hijacking" the Muslim faith and using it for their own lunatic agendas.
Speaking in Yiddish and Arabic Hendi pointed out the similarities to be found in the language and ideology of Judaism, Christianity and the Islamic faith.
One could not help but feel hope and gratitude sitting in a place with such a rich history, listening to such a learned and dedicated man the hope for greater understanding between people of diverse cultures and religions and the gratitude to live in a place where such an event would take place.
Yes, history was made on Friday night when Muslims, Jews and Christians came together in the hope of finding a solution to the insanity of the killing and terrorism spreading like a virus throughout the world. History was made when the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas opened its door and collective heart to a Muslim chaplain.
And if the melting of peoples of different ideologies, different faiths, different cultures is the criteria, then history is made daily in these islands where West Indians, East Indians, Arabs, Europeans, Africans, Eastern Caribbean people, and U.S. mainlanders live, work and play together in relative harmony.
Imam Hendi will speak two more times, on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. at the St. Thomas Reformed Church and at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Frederick Lutheran Church on Main Street.
We urge everyone in the community to bear witness to these historic and groundbreaking events happening right here on our little island.
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