Peace Islands Institute

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Abraham's Table: Peace and Poverty

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Bergen Community College hosted the Peace Islands Institute in an Abraham's Table Luncheon on December 6th 2011. The theme of the event was "Peace and Poverty". Speakers from three Abrahamic Religions spoke about the topic from their own perspectives. Rev. Donald Pitches, Rabbi Neal Borovitz, and Prof. Farhan Tanagur took the podium and disscussed the the topic. Lunch was also served which was prepared by the volunteers of the PII.

We thank the people at Bergen Community College for making this event possible. Below is the very brief summary of the speeches.

Rabbi Neal Borrovitz

Peace in Hebrew is Shalom, The root of the word for peace shalom is shalom (wholeness) _ peace requires wholeness. If you’re going to have peace, you are going to have wholeness. In Judaism it is very clear that affirmative action is a commandment: the widow, the orphan, the stranger have an equal share in the bounty of the land, the product of the community. Hunger is unacceptable. The Jewish word for charity, isn’t charity; its "Sadaka", which its parallel to the Arabic word, "Sadaka" that comes from the word "Sadik", which means righteousness . When I support the hungry and the homelessness, I’m not doing it because its nice of me to do, I’m doing something that my commander of chief “God” commands me to do. The 3 Faith communities that we represent must lead of America into being a place where we enrich each other, fight poverty and pursue it.

Rev Donald Pitches

25 years ago a number of religious oriented people in Bergen Community started becoming concerned about the increase of the homeless population in our community.  A group came together called “Interreligious fellowship for the homeless” (IRFH). I thought we’re going to solve the problem of homelessness, I thought we were going to solve the problem; we didn’t. The problems just started to escalate, it started to grow. At the same time government response was going the opposite direction; there were fewer and fewer government resources and they were being placed on upon the burdens of the nonprofit organizations, individuals, and religious organization. The problem, which is a community problem, got larger and the resources and the people attempting to meet those needs got smaller. It moved away from being a government problem to become the problem of the IRFH, now family promise andother small groups like churches, synagogues, mosques etc.

Farhan Tanagur

Peace in Islam is “Silm”, the word "Sadaka" is a Muslims daily life. It means giving. According to Islam it isn’t about just giving money, it is giving everything, sharing. Zekat is a Muslim requirement, which is that every Muslim gives 1/40th of what they own to the needy and the poor. We see that just giving to the needy and the poor the problems are not going away, we need to do more.  We need to be “organized” organization is really key. Prof Tunagur applauds Peace Islands Institute for all their efforts and all the organizations that the two speakers mentioned. What do we mean by organization? Principally there are two kinds of prayer. Fist is the verbal prayer. We talk to God at our most sincere moment, we ask for things, we say our supplications. The second is material payer which is performed by giving by the wealthy. This type of prayer helps Muslims eradicate poverty and other similar problems, which eventually brings peace to the society. However, we need to do more and we need to be organized to fight poverty.

Prof. Tunagur also talked about his recent trip to Haiti and the help that was being provided there for the homeless due to the earthquake that happened some time ago.

Below are some pictures from the event:


Rabbi Neal Borrovitz

Rev. Donald Pitches

Prof. Ferhan Tanagur




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