WATCH: NYC reverend, rabbi on interfaith community relationships


NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- With hate crime and intolerance on the rise, two religious leaders have made a commitment to help shrink the divide and bring about an understanding in their respective communities and congregations.

Rabbi Serge Lippe, Senior Rabbi of "Brooklyn Heights Synagogue," and Rev. Brett Younger, Senior Minister of "Plymouth Church" in Brooklyn, spoke at each other's house of worship this summer in what they called a "Sermon Swap," reaching across religious barriers to show that we are more alike than we are different.

Lippe, told City Views host Sharon Barnes-Waters that there has been a long standing relationship between his Synagogue and Plymouth church which predates him and Rev. Younger. “I believe we need to do more role molding of breaking bread, learning, listening to one another and the differences we have. We’re not trying to convince each other that our tradition is right, we’re trying to learn about the other and that’s what I think houses of worship allow people to learn there are many paths.”

Younger said his congregation has several couples where one partner is Christian the other Jewish and it changed the way he preached. “By having a Jewish person in a Christian congregation I assumed that wouldn’t change anything, but it does. You refer to the Hebrew Scripture as the Hebrew Scriptures, you quote Hebrew scholars you speak out more often on antisemitism than you might have otherwise. There’s a sense in which the conversations will get better when the conversations get more inclusive.”

Lippe said the “Sermon Swap” brought an added dynamic to the relationship between their congregations. “We are familiar with each other but there is an element in offering your pulpit to one another, you’re making a statement about what we have in common.” Younger added that he chose a sermon that was “universal and had a shared experience. In a sense we are two communities but in another sense we are one community.”

Lippe calls on religious institutions to do their part in teaching their congregation that words matter. Being thoughtful, owning our language, what we’re saying is really something and I would say houses of worship and institutions could help our member learn to think about the language they use more.” Younger said our religious faith calls us to be “mindfulness of one another.”

Yet another great tradition between the two congregations will continue next week as Rabbi Lippe and members of his congregations will walk 8 blocks with their Torah scrolls to Plymouth Church which will be their home for the length of the holidays.

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