Interfaith Dialogue and Building Bridges – Rabbi Guershon Kwasniewski
Inspired by the rabbis Marshall Meyer Z”L, Abraham Joshua Heschel Z”L, Henry Sobel Z”L, I realized from the beginning of my rabbinate, the transcendence of dialogue with other religions as a path that breaks down barriers and prejudices, in addition to securing the My Identity.
I have to be very sure of myself, to be able to tell my neighbors who I am, how and in whom I believe, my customs, traditions, stories and festivities.
The word builds and the word destroys. My choice is for the word that expresses respect and not just tolerance for those who are different from me.
In recent years, I have been responsible for coordinating the Interreligious Dialogue Group of Porto Alegre, a group that I have been a member of for over twenty-six years, a group recognized by Municipal Law 10,372, enacted on January 25, 2008, by the City Council. from Porto Alegre.
We are part of the city’s spiritual heritage. Our objective is to show that even with differences we can and are able to live together in peace and in harmony.
We work in all sectors of society and we dedicate many of our actions to developing educational tasks in high school. It is not by chance that we received the Porto Alegre City Council Trophy in 2012, awarded to individuals or legal entities that, in a minimum period of five years, have publicly distinguished themselves for their contribution to the social, economic or human development of the city, for their actions in any areas of knowledge.
Working in this environment made me grow as a Rabbi. Today I am also part of the Commission for Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of the CNBB – National Commission of Bishops of Brazil-, and I am one of the representatives of CONIB in the interreligious dialogue at the national level.
But nothing was free to get where I am. When I started to walk this path, I suffered several attacks within the Jewish community itself, which did not understand the real dimension of the meaning of dialoguing with other religions.
With a lot of patience and perseverance we managed to overcome difficulties. We can say today that interreligious dialogue is strengthened in Brazil and in the world. This dialogue has no place in countries where human rights are not respected, since religion is part of these rights.
Recognition also came from abroad, with invitations from the US State Department to participate in the IVLP program, in Religious Freedom.
I recently finished two years of studies at KAICIID – The International Dialogue Centre-, and to complete my graduation, as a final project, we are building an interreligious monument that will be donated to the city of Porto Alegre in the last quarter of 2022.
With words and actions we build interreligious dialogue, be part of this dialogue.