Fractures Within Abrahamic Faiths

“Can We Get Along in Our Own Family?” was the subtitle of an interfaith dialogue held April 6 at the Islamic Society of San Francisco. Usually, interfaith dialogue centers on the differences between religious traditions, but this gathering focused instead on the challenges that people face within their own traditions.

Speakers for the evening, held at the Islamic Society of San Francisco, included Rabbi Marvin Goodman, the executive director of the Northern California Board of Rabbis and the rabbi-in-residence for the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, Dr. James Donohue, President of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and Professor Mahmoud Ayoub of Temple University. MC for the evening was Rev. Paul Chaffee, Director of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio.

What can we learn from the tensions within traditions? Rabbi Goodman reminded the group that “Sometimes we must accept different positions as legitimate.” Dr. Donohue suggested it was important to get past the specific issues to asking why people believe what they do, while Professor Ayoub noted, “Neither of my colleagues really pointed to a success story, because success in this area does not come easily. Success will come as we know one another.

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