I remember Dennis Prager saying that every synagogue should have a sister church. Wow, the Orthodox did not react too well to that idea.
SAN MATEO — Religious tolerance is no longer enough. In an antagonistic, confrontational age, followers of any given religion have much to gain and much to contribute by the earnest exploration of other traditions, according to Penny Nixon, senior minister at the Congregational Church of San Mateo.
At Nixon’s church, the guiding principles of diversity and open-mindedness have led to the launch of an interfaith study program that includes studies of Islam, Sikhism, Baha’i and Native American faiths — and even a rabbi-in-residence.
"I think honoring and respecting other religions will not only deepen your own tradition, whatever that might be, but also make progress toward peace," Nixon said. "Part of the goal is to help people understand the highest ideals of each religion. They’re actually very similar, although we may get to them differently."
The rabbi in question is, in fact, not exactly a rabbi. Jhos Singer, who has served as the head teacher and service leader for El Granada’s Coastside Jewish Community since 2000, is technically a maggid, a title best translated as "preacher," he said.
"There are a lot of what I call big Jewish ideas that don’t translate well into English and other languages. For example, ‘shalom,’ probably the most widely known Hebrew word outside of the Jewish community, doesn’t mean hello or goodbye or peace. It means something much bigger than that," Singer said. "So every Monday I’ve been taking a big Jewish idea and exploring it with these Christian congregationers in a class."