By Ramesh Mathew
THE humane and personal elements in each dialogue has been of immense help to the representatives of different faiths in respecting and understanding each other better, said Rabbi Jose Rolando Matalon.
The Buenos Aires-based Matalon, representing more than 250,000 people of the Jewish community living in Argentina, is in Doha to attend the fourth Doha Inter-faith dialogue at the Four Seasons Hotel.
The Rabbi feels that dialogue alone is capable of resolving some of the serious differences over contentious religious issues between different faiths.
The Rabbi was born and raised in South America. His grand parents migrated from Syria many decades ago.
Talking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the dialogue yesterday, the Rabbi said that regular participants at similar conferences no longer spoke on religious issues in general terms and this has helped the development of such dialogues in a great way.
What is more important is that representatives should transcend down to grassroots levels as serious differences exist between various religions, mostly because of different interpretations of the scriptures, the Rabbi felt.
The representative of the Argentine Jews said that until last year when he started attending the Doha meeting, he had apprehensions about the proceedings, because relations between the members of Judaism and other religions had touched a new low following the events in West Asia.
“However, once we initiated the process of dialogue and started expressing our views at similar forums, it was clear that there were a number of leaders who were willing to listen to what we had to say,” said Matalon.
“In short it is always better to meet and discuss rather than not to meet and not to talk about the issues,” he said.
The South American feels that the biggest plus point of each dialogue is that two warring parties still find a common meeting ground where most of the differences are centred.
“Exchange of views between the two parties may help overcome those barriers that have stood as a wall of separation,” he explained.
Matalon is of the view that representatives of more religions should be invited for future editions of the dialogue to make it more meaningful.
“India and China together account for about one-third of the world population and there are religions that have considerable following in that region,” he pointed out.
While lauding the steps of local government officials in facilitating dialogues, the Rabbi said other countries should take a cue from such initiatives and take similar steps to promote mutual respect and understanding among members of different faiths.
“This will enable one to know better about the spiritual side of others,” pointed out Matalon.