Jerusalem is the holiest site for three main religions — Judiasm, Chrisianity and Islam — so it seems only fit that I address it in an interfaith manner, as my close family friend passed away a week ago today. Her funeral was held in a beautiful Catholic Church. In addition to discussing her life, the Pastor explained a passage from the Book of Ruth.
“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” This passage connects all three religions, as does Jerusalem. The Pastor explained that in this case, the text was selected because our friend didn’t “turn away” in death. She was still connected to everyone through love. He stated that once you faithfully join a group of people, whether it be family, friends, or religion you are bound together forever. Your people are united in life and in death because of the commitment and love that you have for one another.
She died at age 18 so “our people” who have died before her will be waiting to take care of her in whatever comes next. Her grandparents and her family friends who have passed will not let her be alone due to the commitment that people have made here on Earth.
This message is very deep. In theory, all of our human ties can be made so strong, that our ancestors respect them and continue to foster them, for us after death. The religions’ death rituals are worlds apart, but the basic message of comfort, love and connection are universal. These similarities tie us all together and the differences are beautiful.
Since we inherently see differences in a better/worse dichotomy, religious tensions arise. In reality we are all taking different paths to the same place so religions should be able to live along side each other. Part of the beauty of Jerusalem is in all three religions doing so.
My friend was a good Catholic. I am a good Jew. When it comes down to it though, we are both good humans and her people will be my people and my people will be her people. Next week when I am in Jerusalem, I will think of her and where she is, all people are one.