Rumi Forum Charlottesville Chapter organized a forum discussion called Abraham’s Table on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, with the theme of “Love and Compassion“.

The goal was to bring people of all faiths and no faith, all spiritualities and philosophies gather in small groups to share a meal and learn about the beliefs and traditions of others within an atmosphere of respect and understanding through a moderated discussion.

The forum hosted three speakers: Rabbi Dan Alexander from Congregation Beth Israel; Rev. Sandy Wisco from St. Mark Lutheran Church; and Imam Bilal Ankaya from Institute of Islamic and Turkish Studies. The forum was moderated by Pastor Ed Winkler from Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church.

The program participants first enjoyed delicious meals. Then, each of our speakers gave a short oral presentation about the topic of the forum. Imam Akkaya told, “Muslims start everything with Bismillahirrahmanirrahim: In the name of the God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate”. He added that love and compassion are central notions in Islam. Compassion is one of the most repeated words in the Quran. He also mentioned that The Compassionate by itself is one of the names of the God. Pastor Wisco explained that love and compassion is one of the core messages in the Bible. She also mentioned that in the Lutheran Tradition, they are significantly focused on God’s Grace and “God’s Grace is free gift to all of us.” Rabbi Alexendar said “Jewish scripture gave the same message about the Love and Compassion like Christian and Muslim text but with different words”. He said traditional Jewish person should recite every morning and in the evening just before going to bed the following prayer: “You shall love your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might”. He also gave an example of the compassion of the believers to each other from the Talmud. These presentations were followed by a Q&A session.