Coral Gables

‘We can coexist.’ Solemn ceremony marking Sept. 11 stresses unity, love

Assistant Rabbi Jonathan Fisch of Temple Judea blows the Shofar as leaders from nearly 30 different congregations gather outside of Temple Judea in Coral Gables on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 to mark the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Assistant Rabbi Jonathan Fisch of Temple Judea blows the Shofar as leaders from nearly 30 different congregations gather outside of Temple Judea in Coral Gables on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 to mark the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. pfarrell@miamiherald.com

An image of a worn and battered firefighter standing in front of the World Trade Center rubble stayed on the screen as pastors Jorge Sayago-Gonzalez and Jose Manuel Capella-Pratts sang “Pues si vivimos” (When We Are Living).

“When we are living, we live in the Lord, and when we’re dying, it is in the Lord,” they sang in Spanish during an interfaith prayer service Sunday to mark the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the deadliest foreign attack on U.S. soil.

Then came the repeated sounds of a gong — each one representing different terrorist attacks across the world since Sept. 11, 2001, including Bali, London, Mumbai and Norway. Pictures of bleeding children, growing memorials and twisted metal flashed on the screen to remind the hundreds who gathered at Temple Judea in Coral Gables of all senseless acts of hate.

“On this day, we mourn all whose lives have been cut short by terror, hatred and violence since Sept. 11, 2001,” Archdeacon Fritz Bazin of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida read from the program, which was split into three sections: mourning, reconciliation and action.

The moving hour-long service, which including almost 30 congregations from across the county including Muslims, Jews and Christians, began with the sound of a shofar, an ancient musical horn made from a ram’s horn used in Judaism.

The diverse group walked in front of the temple — shoulder to shoulder — behind a sign with the service’s theme: “Out of Many, One: A Celebration of Interfaith Community.”

Imams, priests and rabbis walked into the temple’s sanctuary to a choir — made up of smaller choirs from different congregations — singing “I the Lord of Sea and Sky.”

Temple Judea’s cantorial soloist Jodi Rozental said each musical selection was meant to spread a message of peace and understanding.

“It is a message that we can coexist,” she said.

The service, organized by MCCJ, a nonprofit that fights for equality and diversity, began with a cry for unity.

“The people of our land are many. We are many races, we come from many lands, we speak many languages, we practice many religions,” the Rev. Diane Shoaf, a Presbyterian minister from South Florida, read to the group.

Attendees answered in unison: “Yet the strength of our land has always been that out of many we are one. ‘E Pluribus Unum.’ And so today we, the many, gather as one to mourn, to reconcile ourselves with what God requires of us, and to commit ourselves to action for the greater good of all.”

Throughout the service, put together by Rev. Wilifred Allen-Faiella, rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove, there were prayers and song selections from all different faiths.

For Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak, the service gave him hope.

“I wish we could bottle this up and give it to everyone we come in contact with,” he said.

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