Statements & Press Releases
Center for Interfaith Cooperation is about words. Words that express our humanity and help to define our relationship to the Devine through our relationship with one another across a beautifully diverse religious landscape.
Sacred texts and words of wisdom from all our faith traditions help to guide daily actions as well as inform thoughts about eternity.
Our goal in producing statements is not only to seek common language and understanding regarding particular events, but also to illuminate the places where we have honest differences. CIC’s mission is to build empathy for other positions while further defining and challenging our individual convictions.
We have never hesitated to stand in solidarity when any one of our faith communities is attacked. We all vigorously support an open pluralistic society where everyone feels free to worship as they choose or not to worship at all. Our challenges come when it when we approach social issues and the pursuit of equity in all we do. We pride ourselves in building trust across theological and ideological difference.
Below are more statements from CIC and community partners. We hope that you join the conversation and bring your voice to the ongoing conversation.
High Holy Days
In the Jewish Faith, we are about to begin the 10 day period known as Yamin Noraim, the Days of Awe, more commonly known as the High Holy Days. For centuries, Jewish people have gathered together as a community to stop and think about the year past and the year ahead. This year, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on September 6th, corresponding to the 1st day of Tishrei in the year 5782 on the Hebrew calendar, and ends at sundown on September 8th; Yom Kippur begins at sundown on September 15th (the 10th of Tishrei) and ends at sundown on September 16th. These holidays will again be different this year, as COVID remains part of our everyday lives, and racism and division continue to occur in our country and throughout the world. As each of us looks at our individual lives during this period of introspection, may we all as well look at the vast world around us that continues to need our prayers.
Rosh Hashanah, “The Head of the Year,” is a gift of time and an opportunity to learn and grow. It is a happy time as we welcome the New Year, but it is also a serious time as we think about ourselves, what we have done in the past year, and how we may do better in the year ahead. We eat apples dipped in honey in the hope of a sweet New Year. In a dramatic and powerful part of the service, the Shofar, or ram’s horn, is blown to announce the New Year and awaken us in the intention to do better. We ask God for a happy and peaceful year, and we give thanks to God for all good things. God opens the Book of Life which contains all the things we have done in the past year, each of our lives comes before God, and God judges us for the coming year. The Book is kept open, and we each have the power to change our judgement through prayer, forgiveness, and good deeds (the Book is closed at the end of Yom Kippur). When the service concludes, we say “L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu,” may you be written in the Book of Life for a good year.
Yom Kippur, “The Day of Atonement,” is the holiest day of the Jewish year. It is serious and holy, but not sad. After a festive meal, a fast is begun prior to the start of services. This fast allows more time to pray and helps us to know hunger. Kol Nidre, “all the vows,” the most beautiful service of the year, begins at sundown. We ask God for forgiveness. It is the only evening service when tallit (prayer shawls) are worn. The Torah are taken out, and the Kol Nidre prayer is chanted three times. An all day service follows the next day, as we pray a confession of sins, not only for our own sins, but for the sins of others, for things either done or not done. Yizkor, a memorial service, is the time to remember family and friends who have died. To honor their memory, we promise to give Tzedakah, or contributions, to help those in need. The Biblical story of Jonah is told during the service. Neilah, or “closing,” is the final part of the service, as the Book of Life is closed. The Shema is chanted to reaffirm our belief in God, and the Shofar is once again blown. After sundown, the long fast is broken.
Alan Bercovitz – 2021
(Dr. Alan Bercovitz, MD is a Family Medicine Specialist in Indianapolis, IN and has over 34 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from Indiana U, School of Medicine medical school in 1987. He is affiliated with Ascension St. Vincent Hospital – Indianapolis.)
CIC Values Statement
The Board, Officers and Staff of Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) value and respect people. As a result, we appreciate diversity in gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, socioeconomic background, age, religious belief, and any other differences that have been used to divide people. We work to ensure that our membership represents the fullness of the community in which we are located. We are dedicated to diversity in our positions of leadership and in decision-making conversations.
CIC emphatically renounces occasions throughout history where faith and religion have been used to encourage and justify antisemitism, racism, white supremacy, war, discrimination, genocide, sexism, violence, poverty, and any other form of bigotry or oppression. CIC recognizes that these practices are antithetical to the teachings of all religious traditions. The Board, Officers, and Staff of CIC acknowledge their own conscious and unconscious biases that perpetuate injustice and commit themselves to continuous learning and actively pursuing behavior that demonstrates the intrinsic value of all people.
CIC is focused on education and service. It is not an advocacy organization and does not typically track or comment on legislation or lobby for political action at the local, national, or international level. However, CIC believes in seeking equity, diversity, and inclusion. We will collaborate with individuals, faith communities, and organizations that share its values and support interfaith initiatives that build relationships, support the vulnerable in our community, and create hospitable spaces for dialogue and service. CIC recognizes the wisdom, reflected in all religious traditions, of treating others as we would like to be treated.
CIC recognizes, respects, and celebrates the fact that each of the world’s faith traditions is unique and that many of the differences between those traditions are irreconcilable. However, CIC is also aware that there is commonality across all faith traditions that share a deep longing for a more peaceful, just, and verdant community, both in central Indiana and across the globe. The Board, Officers and Staff of CIC understand that differences in our religious traditions can make it challenging to find consensus, but we believe that there is strength in these differences. We do not seek to dictate specific policies for the governance of organizations and groups with which we are associated. However, we do commit to certain behaviors within CIC:
• We are actively working to eradicate racism and discrimination from our
organization, striving to vigilantly address macro and microaggressions.
• We strive to operate with transparency.
• We seek to listen actively and share openly.
• We are adaptable, understanding that change is integral to growth.
• We are dedicated to the wellness of our community, including our staff, board,
volunteers, and AmeriCorps members. We aim to provide a workplace that fosters
physical and mental health.
• We value hospitality. We extend invitations openly, and we strive to provide
accommodations where necessary to ensure equitable experiences.
In response to the FedEx Tragedy
We walk with heavy hearts as we carry the news of another mass shooting in our beloved city. We walk with heavy hearts as we bear the sadness of eight families who have experienced the unimaginable. We walk with heavy hearts as we hold the weight of our own sorrow and grief over eight lives ended by a senseless act of violence. We walk with heavy hearts today.
The Board and Staff of Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) adds our voices of love and support to the families, friends, coworkers, and neighbors of Matthew R. Alexander, Samaria Blackwell, Amarjeet Johal, Jaswinder Kaur, Jaswinder Singh, Amarjit Skhon, Karli Smith, and John Weisert. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all.
This tragic event has hit the Sikh community incredibly hard. Four of the eight people who were killed are a part of this beautiful religious tradition. To our Sikh siblings, we pledge to you our continued assistance and solidarity as you navigate through this time of mourning and loss together.
As an interfaith community that represents the beautiful diversity of the faith traditions found and practiced throughout the Indianapolis area and beyond, CIC strives to be “a community that pursues peace through interfaith understanding and cooperation.” This is never more important than during times of difficulty, turmoil, and loss. Times such as this. May our prayers and our resolve be evidenced in the work of our hands, the boldness of our steps, the creativity of our minds, and the compassion of our hearts as we seek a way forward that ensures all people live a life without fear, full of promise and possibility. And may this begin within each one of us.
Reflections on the verdict in the George Floyd murder trial from CIC staff and board members
“Today seemed a little more beautiful than most. With love and respect for all, I hope the verdict will help bring a modicum of healing to our country.” – CIC Executive Director, Charlie Wiles
Center for Interfaith Cooperation Board Members
On April 20, 2021, following the jury verdict concerning the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, several Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) board members and staff met to discuss the verdict and to share their impressions on racial justice issues in America. While one jury verdict, in one case, in one city does not cure a system of injustices that has been part of the fabric of America for decades, it is a small but necessary step for our justice system. The jury verdict, which soundly condemned the actions of the police officer in the death of George Floyd, brought some relief to the Floyd family and many others across the country. However, most agree, that “liberty and justice for all” is still not a reality for all Americans; there are still challenges to overcome.
Center for Interfaith Cooperation provides safe environments, resources, and opportunities for service to increase religious literacy, build empathy between faiths, and facilitate interfaith encounters. As justice and fairness are essential elements of all faith traditions, at CIC, we will continue to speak for equal justice and fairness for all peoples.
–David Shaheed, Former Board Chair & Governance Chair
I felt a measure of relief that Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd. That feeling of relief came from a sense of doubt that he would be found guilty, despite the fact that his kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes was captured live on video. This doubt points to something we all know: that police carry deadly weapons and have done great harm with impunity, and this harm is done disproportionately to people of color. Only 5% of officers charged with murder in these situations have been convicted since 2005.
A week before the Chauvin verdict, 10 miles away from the trial, Kim Potter shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a young Black man, during a traffic stop while training other officers. He is dead. Days later, we learned that a Chicago police officer shot a 13-year-old Black boy named Adam Toledo. He is dead. Moments after the jury delivered the Chauvin verdict, police in Columbus, OH shot a 16-year-old Black girl named Ma’Khia Bryant in the chest, a girl who called the police for help. She is dead. This is just last week in our United States. The harm ripples through the families of the killed. The rest of us live in perpetual heartbreak. Many people of color also live in terror.
These injustices sprout like weeds from deeply-rooted white supremacy, harming people of color and their families. A common truth revealed by spiritual traditions around the world is that we live in community with one another and are equals as human beings. From this truth, many traditions exhort us to do no harm, to keep each other with love and kindness, and to atone when we do harm so that our collective wounds may heal. It is also true that white supremacy and its violent manifestations have been justified, endorsed, and even promoted by religious authorities, from the creation of the idea of the existence of a superior white race, to colonization and eradication of people indigenous to the Americas, to the kidnapping and enslavement of African peoples, to the systematic murder of Jewish people, LGBT people, and other non-Aryans in Nazi Germany, to the unjust systems we face in the US today. The present contains the past. Only by acknowledging harm and atoning for it can we move forward, together.
White supremacy is not just found in police departments. It is something that Center for Interfaith Cooperation as an organization has to face, too. CIC is early in its journey to becoming an anti-racist organization. To be honest, we have barely begun to grapple with this. I hope that we become reliable allies in this struggle and help bring people together to work towards a more just world for everyone.
–Tony Wiederhold ,Founder and Organizer Indy Community Yoga
Justice has prevailed in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. There was no other conclusion 12 “reasonable” people could have come to. America watched as George Floyd was murdered in front of countless cameras. Chauvin’s actions brought shame to the honorable profession of policing which has been under-fire for shootings involving minorities. However, it is my opinion that the countless officers who take seriously their oath to protect and serve, were as horrified by his actions as the civilian community was. I don’t know one professional police officer who would put his knee on the neck of a human being and watch him die. I also know of no professional officer who would condone it. The already strained relationship between officers and the community was damaged even further, but this verdict is an opportunity for police departments and the minority communities to come together not to “bridge the gap” but to build a bridge. We need each other to keep our communities safe to raise our children and live in peace.
–IMPD Chaplain Patricia Holman, CIC Board Member
Justice in the case for the sake of George Floyd and his entire family is a step in the right direction, but it is only a step. It is important that we do not confuse yesterday’s verdict with the justice work that is still ahead of us. It is up to us to continue the everyday work for justice for all and a world where no one lives in fear.
–Reverend Brian Shivers, CIC Board Chair