Chief Rabbi of France
Chief Rabbi of France Yoni Kempinski

On Tuesday, Rabbi Haïm Korsia, Chief Rabbi of France and 1st Vice-President of the Conference of European Rabbis, participated in an international Prayer for Peace initiative in Rome entitled “No One Is Saved Alone – Peace and Fraternity”.

Organized by the city’s Community of Saint Egidio, the meeting saw the participation of representatives of many Christian denominations in the Basilica of Saint Mary in Aracoeli on Rome’s Capitoline Hill. The meeting was followed by an interfaith ceremony in Michelangelo’s Square on the Capitoline Hill in the presence of representatives of the world’s Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and eastern religions, alongside many other international names including Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and President Sergio Mattarella of Italy.

The event was live-streamed in 8 languages through the various web and social media channels of the Community of Saint Egidio. A minute of silence in memory of the victims of the pandemic and all wars concluded the event.

In a speech to the crowd, Chief Rabbi Haïm Korsia said: “In all the synagogues of the world, this Saturday we read the text of the creation of the world and the beginning of humanity. So much hope […] we see fraternity as hope.” He went further to say: “Our fraternity needs to be exercised in person, in debate, and sometimes even in lively discussion – but always in the hope of finding the other, in order to be able to find ourselves.”

Addressing the tragic murder just outside Paris last Friday of Samuel Paty, a French secondary school teacher, Chief Rabbi Korsia added: “I would also like to share a thought for Samuel Paty – a prayer, perhaps – for this French professor was murdered having just accomplished his mission. For this man knew that the fight for education is one that offers shared humanism. He died for it. And his death obliges us to pursue his battle together in fraternity, without weakness and without fear.”

Prior to the interfaith ceremony, religious leaders prayed separately in venues across the city: Pope Francis, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and other Orthodox and Protestant representatives in the Basilica of Saint Mary in Aracoeli; Jews in the Synagogue of Rome; Muslims, Buddhists and representatives of other Eastern religions in the Capitoline Museums.

Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said: “Yesterday’s meeting brought together some of the world’s leading religious figures in one place, as a sign of unity and co-operation to end all conflicts with the power of prayer. The Conference of European Rabbis was delighted to be part of such a momentous and spiritually powerful event.”