Israel hosts East Asian religious leaders in Jerusalem

Leading religious figures from the Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh communities from India, Japan, China, Myanmar, and South Korea are visiting Israel to participate in an interfaith conference in Jerusalem.

President Reuven Rivlin on Monday hosted what was categorized as “a unique and special meeting” at his residence in Jerusalem that brought together leaders of several faiths from East Asia, including leading figures from the Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh communities from India, Japan, China, Myanmar, and South Korea.

This is the first such visit by a delegation of East Asian religious leaders to Israel, and the interfaith dialogue session in Israel’s capital was the highlight of the delegation’s visit to the Jewish State.

“For many years, the interaction between our traditions hardly existed, only few people experienced both East and West. This is no longer the situation, as your visit today shows,” Rivlin stated. “Today we are all more exposed to the great treasures of the other side.”

Stressing the challenges world faiths face today, Rivlin said that the attacks of September 11, 2001, the 15th anniversary of which was marked yesterday, are “a reminder of the disaster created directly by distorted religious belief.”

He called on the attendees to “face these problems together” as “our traditions have much in common; we all share a deep concern for human life and dignity.”

“Your visit here today is another link in this growing and important chain of cooperation,” Rivlin concluded. “Let us make sure this chain grows stronger. Let us join today in prayer and meditation, for a better and healthier world, and for a peaceful and tolerant global society.”

Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Swami Avdeshanand Giri, spiritual leader of the Hindu community in India, underscored that “when we have dialogue with each other, we gain knowledge, and such dialogues help us pass on these traditional values to the next generation, as well as help furthering peace and harmony in the whole world.”

Most Ven. Xuecheng, president of the Buddhist Association of China, said that “interfaith dialogue is very important in modern society. I think we can make true friends, and really build mutual respect and understanding, and make a harmonious world. We can build common recognition as an example for the whole world, contributing to peace in the whole world.”

The meeting at the president’s residence was part of an interfaith conference in Jerusalem which is addressing issues of shared concern to the spiritual leadership of Israel and the Eastern faiths: The purpose of religion in modern society, safeguarding the planet, the rights of the individual and a just society, the place of religious leadership in advancing peace and global welfare.

The Eastern spiritual leaders will meet with the Jewish, Muslim, Druze and Christian leadership of Israel, and will visit the sites holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News