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Bob Rothman

The Dawn Unity Group is dedicated to promoting interfaith education through interactive dialog.

We recognize there will always be important differences among religious traditions as well as areas of similar thought, so, our objective is to explore each through respectful discussion among leaders and scholars of their faiths.

In doing so, we further understanding among neighbors. These are not debates; there is never right or wrong, only the opportunity to learn the beliefs of others. We are honored to begin our eighteenth year of service and your support has made this possible.

Year XVIII of the Interfaith Discovery Series will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday October 9, 2018 at St. John Fisher Catholic Church 5448 Crest Rd with a discussion of “The Creation Story” by a panel of religious scholars: Rabbi Mark Diamond, LMU; Prof. Amir Hussain, LMU; Rev. Reinhard Krauss, UCLA; and Msgr. David Sork, St. John Fisher. The interpretation of the Genesis story from Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Catholic teachings  will be enlightening. As with all scripture there is much to learn beyond the Biblical text since centuries of commentary has added enrichment to the story. Genesis’ creation story is remarkable for being completely distinct from that of neighboring Iron Age cultures, so exploring that difference will be informative.

Congregation Ner Tamid, 5721 Crestridge Rd. will host “Heaven and Hell; Reward and Punishment” at 7:30 pm Tuesday January 15, 2019. This is a subject on everyone’s mind, and different faiths have their own views as we will hear from Rev. Jonathan Chute, Rolling Hills United Methodist Church; Rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei, Congregation Ner Tamid; Fr. Alexei Smith, Archdiocese of Los Angeles; and Dean Jihad Turk, Bayan Claremont. How important is the promise of eternal paradise in convincing people to live an ethical and moral life; how terrifying is the possibility of spending eternity suffering for grievous sins, and which is the greater incentive? Can ethical conduct be expected absent reward and punishment? What do the Bible and Qur’an have to say?

Our bi-annual music program will be performed at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 2200 Via Rosa 7:30pm Tuesday March 12, 2019. We will hear “Many Songs, One Heart” from the Choirs of St. Francis Episcopal Church directed by Dr. Jeannie Cobb, Congregation Ner Tamid directed by Cantor Rachel Goldman, and St. John Fisher Catholic Church directed by Music Director Grant Hungerford. This evening is both an opportunity to learn and compare the music of these three faiths, and it is a chance to enjoy beautiful chorale music, so join us for either or both reasons as fits your mood and interest.

The forth panel is “Why I Pray” 7:30pm Tuesday May 14, 2019 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 5845 Crestridge Rd.  How deeply is prayer a personal need to speak to God? How do you know if your prayers are heard? What do you pray for, and what results should you expect? Is it right to pray for your own success when someone else must lose in a zero sum encounter? President Mike Gazdik, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Rev. April Herron, Rolling Hills United Methodist Church; Rev. Paula Vukmanic, St. Francis Episcopal Church; and Rev. David Young, The Neighborhood Church will give us their perspectives, and as each has heard the prayers and prayed with hundreds of others, they can contribute insight into those experiences.

Our Annual Interfaith Bible Lecture will be given by Rabbi Ron Shulman of Congregation Beth El , La Jolla 7:30pm Sunday February 10, 2019 at Rolling Hills United Methodist Church 26438 Crenshaw Blvd. The subject “Debate and Disagreement in the Bible and Beyond” is strongly needed today for us to hear the Bible’s teaching on the right and wrong ways to disagree. Today we see our world getting further away from respect and courtesy between people with differing opinions, and it has become normal to demonize the individuals we disagree with on current  issues. Closing our minds to disagreement can be very costly as well as divisive. Bring your family, neighbors, and elected representatives as we are in trouble and need to change.

I will be the moderator for the panel discussions which run for 90 minutes. All are free to everyone and are followed by interfaith cookies and a chance to talk further to panelists and fellow attendees. Join us, and I promise your time will be well spent.

Bob Rothman is the chair of the Dawn Unity Group and can be reached at bobroth@alum.MIT.edu.

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