“Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action — whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster….If we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country — you, more than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world.” -Barack Obama, Cairo, Thursday, June 4, 2009.

Early in his speech, Barack Hussein Obama clearly identified himself as a Christian, while also acknowledging his Muslim family heritage. Embodied in his personal story is a path of reconciliation of apparent opposites. Boldly and brilliantly, he spoke the truth in love about Jewish suffering and Israel’s right to a secure homeland, as well as Muslim oppression and the Palestinian and right to an independent state, and the need for mutual understanding, compromise and reconciliation. In the spirit of shalom, the President showed himself to be a true peacemaker, and time will tell how his speech ‘heard around the world’ will play out in the lives of Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Communities of Shalom is involved in interfaith peace justice work in Newark. What follows is a sampling of affirmations to President Obama’s speech in Cairo from members of our Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace:

I found President Obama’s address at Cairo University remarkable on many fronts-its frankness about American foreign policy, its honoring of Islam, but most especially for his call not only for interfaith dialogue and understanding, but joint action. This is surely the way forward in a world of so many perils and challenges, and a wonderful endorsement of efforts such as the ones we are involved in.
Rev. Robert Morris, Executive Director, Interweave

It is my sincere belief that G-d has provided the world a sincere friend who because of his purity of spirit and profound clarity of intellect is and will continue to be instrumental in reminding us of who we are and what we are suppose to represent. President Obama’s speech was balanced and uncomplicated. He delivered enriching words that can reach the hearts and minds of all people who are sincere about wanting to see the world a better place for all of us. May the Creator and Sustainer give us the best intentions and guide our actions to please Him. Wahy-ud Deen Shareef, Imam

…what I can say passionately is that I feel extremely hopeful that as American people we are headed for a wiser, more compassionate, more visionary time in our history…and I will be extremely grateful to the Holy One if our humble efforts can help to make a change! Peace to all.
–Rev. Tanya Bennett, Director of Religious Life, Drew University

…the President’s address was thoughtful, visionary and inspiring. To make this new vision a reality, it will require all of us individually and collectively to act… It is hard work and will require vigilance. We are so blessed to have President Obama to guide and to lead the world in new ways of knowing/being. Barbara Bell Coleman

I watched the speech on the computer throughout the day. And I reflected on our work together while watching.
I felt proud to be American, and also honored to be connected to the Interfaith Coalition. With Peace and Hope, Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz

Obama is reframing the conversation. I believe that that is what we are trying to do in Newark.
Mark Beckwith, Bishop of Newark

Wow, Thank you, Bob, Matthew, Michael and everybody for also articulating what’s in my heart concerning our President. Can you believe that a son of a slave, now speaking to our world about God’s love for everybody. I am so proud to be a part of our interfaith group. Love you all.
Rev. Reggie Osborne