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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


Scottish Interfaith Pilgrimage - diary

Saturday night, 5 July 2008 - In Anticipation

Ephraim Borowski
It's Saturday night, the end of my first Shabbat back in Jerusalem, and I have a sense of anticipation unusual for this time of week.  Tomorrow afternoon, the motley collection of members of the faith communities of Scotland - young and old, male and female, Muslim and Jew, Christian and Baha'i, Hindu and Buddhist, will board a flight to join me to begin what we hope will be an unforgettable experience for us all.  We will spend the next week living and touring together round some of the holy sites in the land holy to so many and meeting leaders of communities and projects that aim to bridge the all too obvious divides.  We have no illusions that we can bring peace to this troubled land, but we can demonstrate support for those who genuinely work to do so, and at the same time we can learn to understand each other - and perhaps ourselves - better.

There will be both obstacles and opportunities - we know that - and the mystical prayer that some say at the end of Shabbat entirely captures that sense of anticipation and trepidation that this project inspires:

"Master of the Universe, Father of mercy and of supplications, endow the week that is beginning for us with peace, with good omens and good fortune; grant us wisdom and understanding; let us hear joy and gladness; let us not be the object of jealousy, nor feel jealous of others; grant blessing, security, and success to all the work of our hands."

These sentiments are undoubtedly uplifting in themselves at the start of any week.  But they are particularly appropriate as we stand on the threshold of a unique enterprise, the Scottish Interfaith Pilgrimage, which arrives in Jerusalem tonight.  Our 32 participants are religious, lay, and youth leaders from seven of Scotland's faith communities who are coming together in friendship in order to meet and support the work of those of all faiths and nationalities who are working for peace and reconciliation amongst the troubles of this land called holy.

The prayer continues with an alphabetical acrostic:

Open for us, merciful Father, this week and every week,
the gates of atonement, gates of blessing, gates of charity
gates of contentment, of delight, and of enthusiasm;,  
gates of gladness, of good tidings, of goodness, and of grace, 
gates of health, of honour, and of insight,
gates of joy,  of kindness, and of learning,   
gates of length of days, of livelihood, and of mercy,
gates of patience, and gates of peace,
gates of redemption, of righteousness, and of salvation,
gates of success, and of sustenance,
gates of tranquility,
gates of understanding, and gates of wisdom."

This week, the members of the Pilgrimage will have many gates opened for us and will seek to open some gates for others.  May these blessings - and the entire alphabet of blessings - favour all our endeavours this week and every week, and may our work in the days ahead truly earn us our rest at the week's end.

Ephraim Borowski is Director of Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, Vice-Convener of BEMIS (the Scottish minority umbrella organisation), former treasurer of the Interfaith Council, and member of the Scottish Government Faith Liaison Committee.


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