Imam Yama Niazi addreses the Prayer for Peace participants

Santa Barbara leaders of faith joined hands with residents in a large circle underneath the courthouse arch on Monday for a “Prayer for Peace,” a multi-faith gathering promoting compassion and understanding between people of all beliefs.

Lead by Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer, of the Community Shul of Montecito and Santa Barbara, and Imam Yama Niazi, of the Islamic Society of Santa Barbara, the event brought together clergy, rabbis, and Hindu nuns in what Niazi declared a “coming together” of faiths. He called for civility between creeds in an era of pronounced religious tension and terrorism. “The answers can start here in Santa Barbara,” he said. “We can be that light.”

Following a series of blessings and prayers, members of UCSB’s Middle Eastern Ensemble performed a rendition of “Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu,” an Israeli folk song often sung as a call for peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Participants then passed around loaves of challah in a ceremonial breaking of bread and passed date fruits to one another as a gesture of generosity.

Trinity Episcopal Church rector Mark Asman lauded the gathering. “The more events we have like this, the more peace there will be,” he said.


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