First Jewish-Hindu Leadership Summit
First Jewish-Hindu Leadership Summit
A historic event took place in New Delhi/India, February 5-6, 2007, when Hindu and Jewish religious leaders met for the first time for a two-day dialogue on a range of subjects. His Holiness Vishwaguru Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, author of the renowned system Yoga in Daily Life, also took part in the event as a member of the Hindu delegation, comprised of around 30 Hindu dignitaries. Jewish delegation, led by Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, included 20 Rabbis from Israel and the diaspora.
The World Council of Religious Leaders, recognizing the significance of the shared values and views of these two oldest living religious traditions in the world, organized the summit. It has initiated this dialogue in order to bring the collective wisdom of the two religions to bear on active promotion of harmony in these troubled times.
Learned Hindu religious leaders entered into open dialog with learned Jewish Rabbis from Israel and the diaspora. They set out to learn from each other, share knowledge of their respective religious and spiritual heritages, and work together to find effective ways to promote religious harmony.
Among the topics discussed were the relevance of tradition in everyday life, similarities and dissimilarities between the two religions, and education. The purpose behind this inter-faith dialogue was the promotion of understanding, tolerance, peace, and conflict resolution through religion.
It is planned that this historic gathering will lead to ongoing bilateral meetings on shared values and common concerns, many of which were highlighted at this summit.
The summit began with the singing of a traditional religious song of each religion. On the first day representatives of each side – Chief Rabbi Metzger and Swami Dayanand Sarawati – signed a declaration recognizing the values common to the "two most ancient religions in the world", condemning all religion-based violence, and announcing the formation of a permanent Jewish-Hindi committee. The event took place in a very pleasant and vibrant atmosphere.
The Jewish delegation included Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Shri Oded Wiener, Chief Rabbi David Rosen, Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber, Rabbi Dr Israel Singer, Rabbi Moshe Garelik, Chief Rabbi Albert Guigui, Chief Rabbi Isak Haleve and Chief Rabbi Benito Garcon-Serfaty. The representatives of the Jewish community in India included Shri Solomon Sopher, Rabbi Abraham Benjamin, Shri Benjamin Reuben, Shri Ezra Moses, Shri Issac Samson, Rabbi Joshua Kolet, Lt. Gen. (retd) JFR Jacob, Shri Ezekial Malekar and Shri Nissim Moses.
The prominent Indian Hindu leaders included: Kanchi Shankaracharya Swami Jayendra Saraswati, Swami Chidanand, Dr Pranav Pandya, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Maheshwaranand, Swami Vishwesh Teertha, Swami Balagangadharanath, Swami Avimuktesvaranand Saraswati, Shri La Sri Nachippa Jnana Desika Swamigal, Shri Murli Madhav Priyadas, Swami Sachidananda Saraswati, Swami Vidyaranya Bharati, Sadhu Atmaswarupdas, Swami Vishveshwaranand, Swami Gurusharanand Giri, Swami Hansadas, Swami Maheshwaranand Puri, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Viditatmanand Saraswati, Swami Chidrupanand Saraswati, Swami Sarvabhutanand, Swami Aparoksanand, Swami Prabhuddhanand, Swami Sambuddhanand and Swami Nityabuddhanand.
Declaration of Mutual Understanding and Cooperation from the First Jewish-Hindu Leadership Summit
New Delhi, February 5-6, 2007
The participants affirm that:
- Their respective Traditions teach that there is One Supreme Being who is the Ultimate Reality, who has created this world in its blessed diversity and who has communicated Divine ways of action for humanity, for different peoples in different times and places.
- The religious identities of both Jewish and Hindu communities are related to components of Faith, Scripture, People-hood, Culture, Land and Language.
- Hindus and Jews seek to maintain their respective heritage and pass it on to the succeeding generations, while living in respectful relations with other communities.
- Neither seeks to proselytize, nor undermine or in any way replace the religious identities of other faith communities. They expect other communities to respect their religious identities and commitments, and condemn all activities that go against the sanctity of this mutual respect.
- Both the Hindu and Jewish Traditions affirm the sanctity of life and aspire for a society in which all live in peace and harmony with one another. Accordingly, they condemn all acts of violence in the name of any religion or against any religion.
- The Jewish and Hindu communities are committed to the ancient traditions of Judaism and Hindu dharma respectively, and have both, in their own ways, gone through the painful experiences of persecution, oppression and destruction. Therefore, they realize the need to educate the present and succeeding generations about their past, in order that they will make right efforts to promote religious harmony.
- The representatives of the two faith communities recognize the need for understanding one another in terms of lifestyles, philosophy, religious symbols, culture, etc. They also recognize that they have to make themselves understood by other faith communities. They hope that through their bilateral initiatives, these needs would be met.
- Because both traditions affirm the central importance of social responsibility for their societies and for the collective good of humanity, the participants pledged themselves to work together to help address the challenges of poverty, sickness and inequitable distribution of resources.
- The representatives of the two faith communities also agree to constitute a Standing Committee on Hindu-Jewish Relations.