Neighbor to Neighbor
East Bay - California

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Common Interests Bring Different Faiths Together
Neighbor to Neighbor 2016 Annual Interfaith Picnic

Before the group began their meal, all formed N2N’s signature “Ring of Solidarity” in prayer and reflection on their motto of “People of All Faiths Standing Together” along with blessings from Jewish, Muslim and Christian representatives.  The picnic lunch which followed was an extensive “potluck buffet” display of many cherished cultural and ethnic dishes enjoyed by all as they engaged in continuing table conversations. Each was encouraged to sit with someone they didn’t know and start with the question “How else can we put this ‘Harmony in Diversity’ into action?” Many great joint activities – and the theme for next year’s Interfaith picnic -- were suggested.
Sue Adler-Bressler, from Temple Isaiah and a Jewish member of the N2N Steering Committee, noted in conclusion that “When people of different faiths break bread together and just talk, we learn so much from each other, strengthening our own faiths while gaining respect and understanding for the others’.” The N2N partnership will thus be planning many more of these opportunities in the future.

Submitted by Terry Clark, Coordinator of Neighbor to Neighbor        
​  On Saturday May 21, area residents from Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Jewish congregations gathered together at the Lafayette Reservoir to enjoy relaxed fun, fellowship, each others’ foods and rich conversation under the theme “Harmony in Diversity.” The occasion was the second annual Interfaith Picnic sponsored by Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) , an East Bay partnership among different faiths established six years ago to promote understanding, respect, appreciation for each others’ religions and deep inter-relationships among people of all cultures and faiths.
As the 100 or so picnickers arrived, each placed a flag pin in a very large World Map at the country of origin for their ancestry. Virtually all pins landed in Europe, the Middle East, SE Asia, South America and elsewhere around the world. As N2N Coordinator Terry Clark explained later in the program, “The results underscore that (unless we are Native Americans) all of our families originated with immigrants from outside the United States” and “From these diverse origins, we come together to create the strengths of our country.”
The day was filled with great conversations, sharing common interests and solutions to common problems among people of all faiths. Maram Bata, a Muslim member of the N2N Steering Committee, commented “It is wonderful for all of us to have chances like this to talk openly and freely about the ways our faiths support our own daily lives and how we can support each other.” Echoing these sentiments, throughout the program the group sang many popular “connecting” songs together – on learning from each other, standing in solidarity, the desires for peace, and freedom.
An early highlight was the outdoor Christian worship service, conducted by Pastor Lauren Gully of the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church. Her message deepened the theme of harmony in the diversity among people of different faiths and emphasized the importance of “our many Interfaith activities in the East Bay community connecting neighbor to neighbor.” Members from the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center and Temple Isaiah also spoke from their scriptures on this theme of the day. In addition, Pastor Gully carefully explained each element of the Christian worship for the benefit of the other faiths; and everyone joined in singing hymns together on common spiritual beliefs and the scriptural imperative to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

  
Our Mission
Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) is an East Bay partnership among members from Christian, Jewish and Islamic congregations that grow understanding, respect, caring and support of, and appreciation for, the religions of the world with particular emphasis on the followers of the three "Abrahamaic" faiths. N2N promotes education, discourse, community engagement and social opportunities for inter-relationships through programs and events to foster solidarity, tolerance, open mindedness and collegiality among and for individuals of all ages, cultures and faith beliefs.
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