The juxtaposition of events was at once startling and profoundly reassuring. Last week in Vienna, only a few days after a cease-fire put an end to the recent exchange of missile fire between Israel and Gaza, I had the privilege of attending the opening of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna.
The often inspirational event held at the ornate Hofburg Palace was attended by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain, a high-level representative of the Vatican and many eminent Muslim, Jewish, Christian and other religious leaders.
Among the prominent Jewish leaders who took part in the historic conclave in Vienna in addition to myself were Rabbi David Rosen, director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee; Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of Moscow, who serves as president of the Conference of European Rabbis; Lawrence Schiffman, chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, and my father, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. (continue reading...)(...more)