Religion news 28 November 2023

Image credit: Islam channel

Surgeon at Episcopalian hospital in Gaza tells story of horror

A surgeon who operated on patients at the Episcopalian Al Ahli hospital in Gaza, has returned to the UK and spoken of the horrors he witnessed there. Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah told a news conference that he was in the operating theatre when a missile dropped on the adjoining courtyard where hundreds of people were sheltering. He worked in three hospitals in Gaza over seven weeks of intense bombing and described the scenes as apocalyptic. Sky News report here

Church leaders from Bethlehem appeal for lasting peace

Church leaders from Bethlehem have travelled to Washington with a letter signed by people from five denominations, calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and a lasting peace for the region. The letter represents views of Christians from the Greek Orthodox, Syriac, Armenian, Catholic and Lutheran traditions and says there is  a moral obligation for a ceasefire: “This is our call and prayer this Christmas.” The leaders are hoping to present their demand to President Biden and other political leaders.

Photos of Israeli hostages displayed on train tracks leading to Auschwitz

Students from the JFS school in north London, have displayed photos of the 200 remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza, on the train tracks leading to Auschwitz. They were on a school trip there this week and acted after considering the murder and kidnapping of Jews by Hamas on 7 October. A teacher explained that the story was a “strong reminder” that students are still living in times where Jews are hated.

Board of Deputies role in Sunday’s antisemitism march is criticised

A comment piece by Rabbi Jonathan Romain in the Jewish Chronicle says the Board of Deputies were slow to “read the room” and organise a march against antisemitism, leaving it to the Community Security Trust to do so instead. His comment has been criticised by the Board of Deputies as deeply regrettable and inaccurate, pointing out that it advertised the march on social media and its president attended. Liberal and Reform Judaism came to the defence of the Board, explaining that it sought reassurance on speakers and security before offering full support.

Pope said to be stable and improving from breathing difficulties

The Vatican has issued a statement about the health of Pope Francis, who recited the Angelus prayer on Sunday by video link, explaining that he had a problem of inflammation on his lungs. The Pope, aged 87,  is said to be stable, with no fever, and his respiratory situation is “clearly improving”. A spokesman said a CT scan ruled out pneumonia but showed pulmonary inflammation causing breathing difficulties. He has been given antibiotics and some important engagements scheduled for the next few days have been postponed.

Faith Pavilion for Cop28

A “Faith Pavilion” will be set up at the Cop28 meeting in Dubai, where different faith groups will stage events to share ideas for tackling climate change. There will be 65 sessions, from nine world religions, with 325 speakers, organised by 70 organisations from 54 countries. The inauguration ceremony on Sunday 3 December is – at the moment – intended to be led by Pope Francis and the Egyptian scholar, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb. The Faith Pavilion is the first of its kind at a UN climate conference and is hosted by the Muslim Council of Elders in collaboration with the COP28 Presidency, the United Nations Environmental Programme, and a coalition of faith partners.

Project to research Jewish communities in Wales

A project has been launched to plot the history of Jews in mid, west, and north Wales from the 19th century to date. It follows the work of the Jewish History Association of South Wales research Jewish heritage in south Wales. Many Jews moved into Wales escaping persecution in Eastern Europe, but their communities have almost disappeared. The project will try to find remaining members and collate their heritage.

Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary celebrated with Nagar Kirtan processions

Sikhs have celebrated the 554th birth anniversary of the first Guru and founder of the Sikh tradition, Guru Nanak. There were special services in gurdwaras honouring his teachings, and street processions, Nagar Kirtan, in many towns in Britain. Each was led by five men wearing saffron robes and holding flags, representing the five early leaders beloved of the Guru. They were followed by a float bearing the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture. The Nagar Kirtan in Birmingham was captured by Preet Kaur Gill MP on social media.


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