Young children sing the “Children of Peace” song at a prior World Sabbath.
Young children sing the “Children of Peace” song at a prior World Sabbath.

Interfaith event will celebrate shared values and commitment to unity and peace.

The 21st Interfaith World Sabbath will return to an in-person event after a COVID hiatus on Sunday, March 19, from 4 to 6 p.m. Temple Israel will host the 2023 interfaith celebration, which will include prayers, songs, dances and rituals of many Metro Detroit faiths. Young people from local Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and other congregations will be the focus.

The program will feature the blowing of the shofar by a young Jewish member of Temple Israel; the traditional Muslim call to prayer; and the blowing of a conch shell — a Hindu prayer tradition.  Members of 12 to 15 local congregations are expected to participate.

Gail Katz
Gail Katz

World Sabbath, presented by the InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit, was organized in 2000 by two clergymen from Christ Church Cranbrook. Gail Katz, a member of Temple Israel and a West Bloomfield resident, became involved as part of her interest in interfaith activities, inspired by teaching English as a second language to immigrant children in the Berkley School District.

“We are trying to teach our diverse population in Metro Detroit a responsibility for everyone,” Katz says.

When one of the organizers of the World Sabbath left Detroit in 2004, Katz became event chair, shifting the focus from members of the clergy to youth. Since then, children sing the “Children of Peace” song, and many make peace banners that are featured in a processional at the event.

Two other members of the Jewish community serve on the World Sabbath Committee. Carol Kravetz of West Bloomfield has been involved for many years. “It’s important to know our similarities, to value our differences and pray for peace,” she says.

Raymond Kach, Farmington Hills, values the World Sabbath because “it highlights some of the traditions of different faiths. In these divisive times, it’s critical for us to realize that we can get along.”

Rick Joseph, a member of Christ the King Church in Detroit who succeeded Katz as World Sabbath chair last year, views the World Sabbath as a way of building the “beloved community” described by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “It’s so inspiring on many levels. We realize commonalities and that we’re not that different after all,” he says.

“I hope people leave with new eyes — understanding who my neighbor is regardless of their religion or no religion. We are about creating opportunities for com-munity and unity to promote a more peaceful world one relationship at a time,” Joseph says.

For Temple Israel, hosting the event is part of a larger community outreach effort.

“As a representative of the Jewish community, temple is committed to the idea of being an example to the greater community,” says Rabbi Joshua L. Bennett of Temple Israel. “To this end, we partner often with projects and other institutions that promote peace and harmony among neighbors. Programs like the World Sabbath are a chance to come together, focusing on our shared vision rather than our differences.”

World Sabbath was previously held at Temple Israel in 2011. Temple Beth El has also hosted the event.

This year’s World Sabbath Peacemaker Award will be given to Raman Singh, a West Bloomfield resident and leader in the Sikh community and executive director of the InterFaith Leadership Council.

The Mission of World Sabbath
The mission of the World Sabbath is to teach Metro Detroit’s diverse population that the work of building a community of justice, equality, respect and peace is a calling shared by all, especially young people, regardless of individual religious traditions. It is a joyous interfaith experience of music, dance and prayer.

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