United Church of Canada's stance on Israeli products
Published Sunday, September 16, 2012 6:14PM EDT
The United Church of Canada has taken a controversial stance. Its members are being encouraged to avoid products made in the Israeli settlement areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The decision has caused outrage amongst many in the Canadian Jewish community. But there are two local congregations that say they are working to co-exist.
What’s even more striking is that these two congregations are under one roof. The Cedar Worship Centre is the only one of its kind in Canada.
On Sunday’s it is used by Westminster United Church for their services and on Saturday’s members of Temple Shalom, a reform congregation, come in to reconfigure pews to face the east - synagogue one day, a church the next.
“We co-exist. We respect each other. We are good neighbours,” says Rev. Mary Savage of Westminster United Church. “as far as Westminster is concerned we are kinda proud of the fact that we do this.”
But in the last month members from both faiths have had to come together and have a serious talk.
A recent decision made by the United Church of Canada has directed members to avoid the purchase of settlement products as a result of the ongoing conflicts between Israel and Palestine.
“I am disappointed in the National United Church of Canada that they have decided to come out with a very strong statement about what is happening in Israel,” says Rabbi Lori Cohen of Temple Shalom. “Well, there are a lot of countries in the world, where they should be putting their energies.”
Rev. Savage says Westminster sent a recommendation to the U.C.C asking that they treat both Palestine and Israel equally. Both religious leaders are determined not to let this issue get in the way.
Both the Rabbi and the Reverend now say they have a unique opportunity to show people that two religions can co-exist under one roof.
“Perhaps if anything its strengthened our resolve to work together.” says Rev. Savage.
And Rabbi Cohen says “We believe in what ever we may disagree in smaller details we will not let that interfere between the overall relationship between the two congregations.
While no one knows how long the United Church will continue its stance on Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Members of the Cedar Worship Centre have had a seamless partnership that has worked for the last sixteen years.
Sunday night, Temple Shalom is celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The Rabbi says over the next few days she will be talking to her congregation surrounding the U.C.C. decision.