Three faiths pray together for peace, unity

With a reverend to his right, and an imam to his left, Rabbi Mark Kula spoke about the importance of peace and unity during a Yom Kippur service on Saturday morning.

“We stand together,” Kula said, while introducing the Rev. Biju Vells of St. Louis Catholic Church in Pinecrest, and Imam Zakaria Badat of Masjid An-Noor in Kendall. “We understand that peace can only happen when we reach out to each other.”

The trio gathered for an interfaith prayer during Saturday’s Yom Kippur service, at Bet Shira Congregation in Pinecrest.

“Members of our interfaith community know that shalom, salaam, peace, is imperative,” Kula said, during the service.

As the Jewish community observed Yom Kippur on Saturday, a day of atonement, the Islamic community had a holiday of their own to recognize — Eid al-Adha.

During Eid al-Adha, Muslims remember the story of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his son for his faith in God. It also marks the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

“I know it’s a Muslim holiday, so for him to make himself available I feel is very special,” Kula said referring to Badat’s presence at the event.

Badat said he was happy to attend the interfaith portion of the service as it highlighted the bonds among the local religious communities and sent a message that “peace is needed regardless of faith.”

“It shows the unity of the faiths,” said Badat before the service. “We all want peace, regardless of our differences of in faith. We can unite together against tyranny of any kind.”

That message was echoed by the rabbi.

“I believe, fundamentally, that all faiths believe we are the children of God,” Kula said during an interview before the service. “We are all brothers and sisters on this planet, and with that thought we can achieve peace.”

Members of the synagogue appreciated the show of unity.

“I thought it was really nice,” said Mariela Engel, 45, of Pinecrest, following the prayer, adding that that it conveyed a positive message.

Before the service, Kula called interfaith prayer a “small piece of peace.”