Culture of Peace in UN

Culture of Peace in UN

SEPTEMBER 4, 2018/ UN Headquarters, New York
The Role of Parliaments for Promoting the Culture of Peace and Implementing the SDG’s
Co-sponsors: UNESCO, Missions of Sri Lanka, Benin, 
Civil Society Representatives:
Imam Agha Jafri/ Sec. Gen. -American Muslim Congress
Rabbi Yakov David Cohen, Pres. Institute of Noahide Code
Rev. Tomas de Valle, St. Colomba
Mark Weizman, Director of Government Affairs/ Simon Weisenthal Center
Sergio Kopeliovich, Founder/Director, New York City Peace Museum

Universal Noahide Code at UN HQ

Universal Noahide Code at UN HQ

10 30 2018

Universal Noahide Laws at the UN

One man had a dream once, that his children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. This dream was born out of the ashes of a crumbling belief that one man was worth more than another. This misguided idea, that a free man was still subject to the will of his former masters, was and still is a microcosm of a problem that is facing the world today.

The prejudice, bigotry, violence and wickedness that infects every nation is the result of a lawlessness born out of our tendency to forget our past. The nations of our planet face daily battles between people whose only real fault is ignorance of the laws given to mankind since the time of Adam. These forgotten laws are known as the Universal Noahide Laws and are ostensibly a paragon of ethical behavior meant to guide mankind to perfection through good deeds and to propagate knowledge and understanding of the Divine.

It should be the dream of all people that our children should not only live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, religion or social status, but that they should live in a nation that adopts these Universal Laws as the foundation of the existence of that nation.

In 1945, the United Nations was established to promote international co-operation as well as to create and maintain international order. The original 51 member states began with a vision that all nations, great and small, would benefit from a conglomerate of working together in their efforts to foster social and economic development, provide humanitarian aid, promote human rights and maintain peace between all nations. Today, over 190 countries have joined this international body in hopes that the infrastructure of peace lies within.

One of the principal organs of the UN is the Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC. This 54 member council serves as a forum for discussing international economic and social concerns, as well as delivering recommendations regarding policy to be addressed to the entire UN body. ECOSOC deliberates with many non-governmental organizations , or NGO’s, that participate in the day to day activities of the UN. The Institute of Noahide Code-UN is an accredited NGO with consultative status promoting peace through the values set in place by the seven Universal Laws. These laws are the Key to opening up a dialog between people of all nations, regardless of creed, religion or social class. They represent the common bond of all people across the globe, the backbone of peace. These laws are the framework for building a bright future for our children.

The foundation for establishing these Universal Laws at the UN is already in place due to the tireless efforts of Rav Yakov D. Cohen, executive director of the Institute of Noahide Law. As our generation witnesses the moral decay of the society around us, like what the world recently witnessed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it becomes a moral issue whether or not to become proactive in stopping this burning hate that is festering in regions all over the world. We are beginning to forget the lessons that we learned from the Holocaust, which included the greatest lesson, that even discrimination against one group of people will result in the unraveling of the fabric of our entire society.

If we forget those lessons, if we forget our past, if we forget the Universal Laws, then our dreams of a utopia world for our children will fade away and be forgotten. These lessons, laws and future go hand in hand. In order to make peace between all nations, then all nations must realize that it is time to stop dreaming and embrace our reality. All of our lives depend on the choices we make from moment to moment. Each new moment provides us opportunities to change who we are. Now is the time to make the Universal Noahide Laws a priority.

When enough people recognize the importance of the Universal Laws, people and nations can truly begin the healing process all over the world with a common goal of providing our children with their own moments and chances to build a future for their children, our grandchildren. If we lose sight of our responsibility to pass on the knowledge of these laws to the next generation, we forfeit our future.

By: Craig R. Lodice

United Nations: Inauguration of the Parliamentary Multi Track Initiative Council for the SDG’s and the Culture of Peace

United Nations: Inauguration of the Parliamentary Multi Track Initiative Council for the SDG’s and the Culture of Peace


An article from Cotidianul (abridged)

At the UN headquarters in New York on September 14, the conference entitled “Inauguration of the Parliamentary Multi Track Initiative Council for the SDG’s and the Culture of Peace” was organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics. Emil Constantinescu [former President of Romania] was the chairman of the conference and gave the opening speech entitled “Global Peace Initiative from the Levant, the foundation for a new culture of peace,” his press office announced in a statement.

The presidium of the conference included Ambassador Ion Jinga, Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations, Ambassador Katalin Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations, Lily Valchanova Liaison Officer UNESCO, Garry Jacobs, president of the World Academy of Art and Science and the World University Consortium, and S. Bekerman, secretary general of the Interparliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics.

Participants in Sessions 1 and 2, led by President Constantinescu included Giandomenico Picco, former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and adviser to the Oxford Research Group, Master Jun Hong Lu, president and director of the Oriental Media Buddhist Association, Rabbi Elie Abadie, Director of the Jacob E. Safra Institute of Sephardic Studies at Yeshiva University, Imam Agha Jafri, founder of the American Muslim Congress, Wafik Moustafa, president of the Conservative Arab Network, Dr. Lahoucine Khabid, president of the Atlas Center for Diplomatic Studies, ZH Khurram, secretary general of the International Youth Forum, Dr. Boris Pincus, President of Religions in Dialogue, and Rabbi Yaakov D. Cohen, founder of the Institute for Noahide Code. . .

Speech given by Emil Constantinescu:

Global Peace Initiative from the Levant, the foundation for a new culture of peace

At its annual conference in 2011 in Berlin, the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy launched a project for a new type of relations between nations and states based on understanding instead of military pressure or economic conditions. . . It seems that this kind of relationship that gives peace a chance in the globalized world can find inspiration in the ancient world of the Levant. This is not only because the Levant was the cradle of cultural diplomacy, but also because many civilizations including the Egyptian, Jewish, Assyrian, Babylonian, Phoenician, Greek, Arabic empires Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires were created in the Levant where they expanded exchanges of goods and ideas. South-East Europe has long been in contact with North Africa and the Middle East, and the people who live here have a long and extensive experience in intercultural dialogue.

In 2012, the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics took up the initiative and expanded it globally. In 2013, at the end of the conference organized in Bucharest with a wide range of religious, academic and parliamentary representatives, a joint project was set up for the initiative. Considering that the Global Peace Initiative from the Levant could serve as a benchmark and model to achieve peace in all areas of conflict around the globe, on 24 and 25 June 2013, the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics organized a conference at United Nations headquarters in New York dedicated to promoting this initiative. The Romanian Parliament endorsed it with a message of support.


Question for this article
Religion: a barrier or a way to peace?, What makes it one or the other?

In March 2014, the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics organized a new conference in New York together with the Foundation for the Culture of Peace, headed by Federico Mayor.

It is planned to present the Global Peace Initiative from the Levant to the Congress of the United States, the British Parliament, the Knesset of Israel and to many other parliaments, including those of Japan and Palestine. . . .

This project, dedicated to promoting a culture of peace, invites the participation of researchers and scholars in the humanities, theologians, writers, artists, architects, musicians to build a space of knowledge and understanding through co-operation and mutual respect. A culture of peace is based on a new type of relations, not only between states, but especially between peoples who share common values that were born long before the current nation-states.

The time has come for cultural diplomacy and recognition of the old legacy of the Levant, an alternative reading of the history of this region, especially prior to the wars and conflicts of the present millennium. It offers a new approach, emphasizing what we have in common and what can unite us: principles, values ​​and skills practiced in the past, that can now be harnessed to ensure not only the stability of this region as a whole, but also building a model of cooperation and trust for all countries. It does not mean that we should deny our past, but to assume it in its tragic dimension. . .

For quite some time international organizations such as UN, UNESCO and civil society have been trying to create a political culture of security through negotiation and cooperation. To promote peace and understanding in the world they have been looking for the lowest common denominator around which we can agree. It is a welcome step and especially in the face of the many immediate threats.

My belief is that we should propose much more. If we want to achieve true peace and understanding between people we should not focus on the lowest common denominator, but to refer to the highest common denominator – faith.

Modern and postmodern societies of the 20th century have promoted equal rights and freedoms regardless of racial and ethnic differences and equal opportunities for women. But all this tends to divide society rather than unifying it. A peace based on a common ideal would be ideal, although it is a difficult task, not a peace imposed under the pressure of fear, but a peace springing from the depths of consciousness of millions of people. The treasure of the philosophical, literary, artistic millenary history of the Levant can help inspire a spiritual revolution with a profound knowledge of the human being who has been torn for millennia in the struggle between the aspiration to love one’s neighbor and the tendency to use power to oppress them or to oppress others in their own interest. We can turn this vast pedagogy of suffering into a pedagogy of reconciliation.

Twenty years ago, millions of people in Eastern Europe with empty hands, were ready to fight and die for freedom and democracy against the greatest war machine in history. In a new millennium, we can rediscover faith. Not to use it one against another, as has been done throughout the long history of mankind, but to understand our purpose on Earth. Peace is the name of God, whether we are Christian, Muslim, Jewish or faiithful to Asian religions. Only human arrogance has made us forget the Lord’s message, whatever name we give it to him in the language or our faith.

If the Levant, the cradle of the great monotheistic religions, will carry out a political and visionary project adapted the great challenges of today, it will contribute not only to a new identity of the area, but also hdlp to create a different concept of the future world called into a new humanism.”.


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Kosher Halal food in public schools

Kosher Halal food in public schools

SAFESTBuried in the just released NYC Budget for fiscal year 2019 is a $1 million allocation for a “Halal and Kosher School Lunch Pilot,” one of a few “food initiatives” totaling $7.4 million.

City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, who has supported the introduction of halal and kosher food in the schools, said in a statement on June 14 that the pilot program is “a critical first step toward leveling the playing field for our students not only in the cafeteria, but in the classroom – because only when young people have access to sufficient healthy food can they reach their full academic and social potential.”

Stringer noted that just last month, his office convened Jewish and Muslim leaders, community stakeholders and food advocates “to discuss this universal food initiative and build momentum toward this longstanding goal.”

Mobilizing Cultural and Religious Ethics to Promote the U.N. Post 2015 Development Goals

Mobilizing Cultural and Religious Ethics to Promote the U.N. Post 2015 Development Goals

The U.N. post 2015 development goals encompass ethics inherent in many cultures and religions on issues of social and environmental justice.
The Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics, in cooperation with the Institute of Noahide Code are launching a major initiative to create a global steering committee of religious leaders and cultural representatives to lead the efforts to harness cultural and religious ethics to promote these goals.

The ‘United Nations’ Headquarters faces the Isaiah Wall inscribed across from the main building. The quote from the prophet Isaiah was chosen as the founding motto for the world’s foremost organization for international peace. In his eternal thought, the day is mentioned when no nation will wage war against another nation, and when swords – the instruments of war – will be transformed into plowshares – the instruments for providing man’s sustenance. The Seven Universal Laws of Noah which are cited by the philosopher Hugo Grotius as the foundation for international law (the basis for the United Nations Charter) are the practical means, by which humanity can strive to live in unity and peace and can fulfill its potential to see all the families of the earth blessed. These laws for peace and unity encompass respect for G-d, for human life, respect for the Family, for other people’s property, for the creation, respect for the judicial systems, and respect for all creatures and the environment.

Leaders in the fields of culture and religion are invited to share their insight and wisdom with the leading UN officials to assure that the vision of the United Nations, to have a peaceful and civilized world in which economic justice and righteousness prevail, can be fulfilled. The goal of this summit is to develop a coalition of religious and cultural leaders to work with the UN to implement the development goals towards a culture of peace and prosperity.

  • GOAL 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • GOAL 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • GOAL 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • GOAL 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • GOAL 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • GOAL 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • GOAL 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • GOAL 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • GOAL 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization andfoster innovation
  • GOAL 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • GOAL 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • GOAL 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • GOAL 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
  • GOAL 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • GOAL 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation andhalt biodiversity loss
  • GOAL 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provideaccess to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • GOAL 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development


  1. United Nations Resolutions on the Culture of Peace as a Pre-Condition for Peace, Security and Sustainable Development (Goals 1-17)
  2. Religious and Cultural Values as a driver for the implementation of the UN Post 2015 agenda (goals 1-17)
  3. Ethical Finance to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” (goal 17)

Peace Process in the Middle East Global Summit – United Nations Headquarters



13 Principles of the Jewish Faith

The Thirteen Principles of the Jewish Faith

by Rav Moshe Ben Maimon, the Rambam – Rabbi Moses Maimonides

שלשה עשר עקרים של אמונת היהודי

The RAMBAM, in his commentary on the Mishnah (Sanhedrin, chap. 10), refers to these ‘Shloshah-Asar Ikkarim’ or thirteen principles of faith as “the fundamental truths of our religion and its very foundations.”

  • Belief in the existence of a Creator and of providence
  • Belief in His unity
  • Belief in His incorporeality
  • Belief in His eternity
  • Belief that worship is due to Him alone
  • Belief that G-d communicates with man through prophecy
  • Belief that Moses was the greatest of all the prophets
  • Belief in the revelation of the Torah to Moses at Sinai
  • Belief in the unchangeable nature of the revealed Law
  • Belief that G-d is omniscient
  • Belief in divine reward & retribution in this world and in the hereafter
  • Belief in the coming of the Messiah
  • Belief in the resurrection of the dead

Yud Gimmel Ikrim – יג עקרים

From The Siddur (prayer book)

  1. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is the Creator and Guide of everything that has been created, and that He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
  2. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is One, and that there is no oneness like His in any way; and that He alone is our G-d, who was, is, and ever will be.
  3. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is not a physical body, and no physical phenomena can apply to Him, and that He has no form whatsoever.
  4. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is the first and is the last.
  5. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is the only one to whom it is proper to pray, and that it is not proper to pray to anyone else.
  6. I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
  7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses our teacher, peace be to him, was true, and that he was the father of all the prophets, both of those who preceded him and of those who followed him.
  8. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah which we now possess is the same that was given to Moses our teacher, peace be to him.
  9. I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, nor will there be any other Torah from the Creator, blessed be His name.
  10. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, knows all the actions and thoughts of human beings, as it is said, It is He who fashions the hearts of them all, who discerns all their actions. (Psalms 33:15)
  11. I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress His commandments.
  12. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah, and, though he tarry, I wait daily for his coming.
  13. I believe with perfect faith that there will be a resurrection of the dead at the time when it will please the Creator, blessed be His name and exalted be His mention for ever and ever.

In what has become one of his most celebrated and well‑known works, Maimonides, in his commentary on the Mishnah, com­piles what he refers to as the Shloshah‑Asar Ikkarim, the Thirteen Articles of Faith, compiled from Judaism’s 613 com­mandments found in the Torah. The Thirteen Articles of Jewish faith are as follows:

  1. Belief in the existence of the Creator, be He blessed, who is perfect in every manner of existence and is the Primary Cause of all that exists.
  2. The belief in God’s absolute and unparalleled unity.
  3. The belief in God’s non-corporeality, nor that He will be affected by any physical occurrences, such as movement, or rest, or dwelling.
  4. The belief in God’s eternity.
  5. The imperative to worship Him exclusively and no foreign false gods.
  6. The belief that God communicates with man through prophecy.
  7. The belief that the prophecy of Moses our teacher has priority.
  8. The belief in the divine origin of the Torah(Bible).
  9. The belief in the immutability of the Torah(Bible).
  10. The belief in divine omniscience and providence.
  11. The belief in divine reward and retribution.
  12. The belief in the arrival of the Messiah and the messianic era.
  13. The belief in the resurrection of the dead.

It is the custom of many congregations to recite the Thirteen Articles, in a slightly more poetic form, beginning with the words Ani Maamin‑”I believe‑‑every day after the morning prayers. In his commentary on the Mishnah (Sanhedrin, chap. 10), Maimonides refers to these thirteen principles of faith as “the fundamental truths of our religion and its very foundations.”

The 7 Laws of Noah &…

The Seven Laws of Noah and
the Non-Jews who Follow Them

By Michael Kress

Sitting at a table at Mendy’s Kosher Delicatessen in New York, Jim Long pauses to say a blessing in Hebrew before biting into a massive hamburger topped with fried pastrami. “This pastrami is better than bacon,” he declares in his warm voice tinged with an Arkansan accent. The 58-year-old filmmaker—who no longer permits himself bacon—is in the city with his wife Carol, who sits primly beside him. They are here to speak at several Orthodox synagogues about their documentary, Riddles of the Exodus, which examines the biblical account through the lens of Egyptian archaeological finds.

The Longs are an observant couple. Hebrew phrases pepper their conversation—a b’ezrat Hashem (with God’s help) here, a baruch Hashem (praise God) there. Back in Arkansas, they keep a traditional Jewish home. “We’ve got blessings in ivrit [Hebrew] hanging on the walls, and menorahs on display,” Long explains. Each year, they build a sukkah and attend a Passover seder. “Our oldest grandson just turned six and already knows his aleph-bet,” Long boasts.

But despite the baruch Hashems, the menorahs, the sukkah, the avoidance of pork and the intimate familiarity with advanced rabbinic texts, Jim and Carol Long are not Jewish, nor do they have any plans to convert. They are Noahides: non-Jews who accept the authority of Jewish law and focus their lives around the Jewish concept of Sheva Mitzvot B’nei Noach or the Seven Commandments for the Children of Noah. This set of laws is intended for non-Jews and, according to tradition, predate the Ten Commandments given at Mount Sinai. “I believe exactly what a Jew believes,” Long tells me. “My belief system is exactly parallel to that of an Orthodox Jew. That doesn’t mean I am one.”

Unbeknownst to most Jews, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Noahides, and most, like the Longs, are former Christians who’ve turned their backs on the faith. This is not the first time the world has seen a community of “Righteous Gentiles” who center their beliefs around Judaism but it is the first time in history that such a group has begun to organize as a worldwide movement. And that movement is being actively encouraged by some Orthodox Jewish groups—in particular, the Brooklyn-based Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidim.

About forty blocks north of Mendy’s deli, Rabbi Yakov Cohen scurries around a second-floor office at the Schneerson Center for Jewish Life, the home of Chabad on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The 30-something Brooklynite with a close-cropped reddish beard, rarely sits still: he devotes his copious energies to helping out with the Chabad center’s core mission—classes, prayer services and other programs for Jewish residents of this tony Manhattan neighborhood.

His true passion, however, lies in reaching out to non-Jews through what are usually referred to as the “Seven Laws,” which he describes as pillars of universal morality that serve as a “balm for a world of conflict and immorality.” Jewish teachings say that God first gave these laws to Adam, then reaffirmed them as part of the covenant he made with Noah after the Flood. Just as the Jews have the Ten Commandments (plus an additional 603 mitzvot), non-Jews—all of whom are technically the children of Noah—have the Seven Laws, which command them to establish a legal system and refrain from murder, blasphemy, idolatry, adultery, theft and eating the flesh of a living animal.

“The non-Jews have the full length and breadth of Torah—they just have a different role in it,” says Cohen, his rapid-fire delivery complete with a yeshiva-ish lilt. “The role of every person is to be a good person, to bring divine light, to draw down godliness, Hashem, into the world. To do it as a Jew, as a non-Jew, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same light,” he says. “It’s the same Godly energy.”

Like virtually all Chabad Hasidim, Cohen seeks counsel in the words of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Lubavitch rebbe, who died at age 92 in 1994 and is still affectionately referred to simply as the “the rebbe.” “Influencing non-Jews to keep their mitzvos, the Seven Noahide Laws… will assist our task of making the world into a dwelling place for God, and help bring about the arrival of Messiah,” Schneerson said in a 1987 speech during a Purim celebration. In response to teachings like this, thousands of his followers fanned out around the globe to battle what they saw as society’s moral degeneracy, bringing yiddishkeit to non-observant Jews and seeking out and supporting interested non-Jews.

About six years ago, Cohen founded, a website that serves as a sort of Noahide think tank, through which he runs conferences, publishes papers and counsels non-Jews from as far away as Scandinavia. Other Chabad-associated websites such as and (meaning, seven laws for the proverbial 70 nations of the world) likewise seek to spread Noahide values to non-Jews in English, French, Spanish and other languages. Rabbis from Shimon Cowen in Australia to Immanuel Schochet in Canada offer halachic advice to Noahides and lecture about what Jewish tradition expects of non-Jews. In Israel, Chabad emissaries visit Arab and Druze villages to pass out literature about the Seven Laws and converse with the sometimes bewildered—but often receptive—locals. In addition to preparing the world for the Messiah, they see themselves as presenting moral values that will end the centuries-old animosities between Muslims and Jews.

“We, the Jewish people, especially frum people, have to be a light upon the nations and we have to tell them what Torah says,” says Cohen. “We have the responsibility to shed light on the world.”

Jack Saunders has a snowy white beard of biblical proportions.

Back in the 1980s he was a Baptist minister at Frazier’s Chapel Independent Baptist Church in Cohutta, Georgia, near the Tennessee border. But that was before the now 58-year-old Tennessean began to question the fundamentals of his faith and came to the conclusion that the gospel stories of Jesus and the entire New Testament are false.

“It was kind of disturbing,” he says of the experience. “But if you’re looking for truth and truth smacks you in the face, then you have to do something. You have to be able to confront it and say, ‘This is the truth’ and let go of your emotions.”

Saunders recalls how hard it was to express his doubts to his parishioners and admit that he had “been wrong for all those years.” The process was slow. For about a year and a half he preached only from the Jewish Bible, what Christians call the Old Testament. Then one Sunday morning, Saunders recalls, he stood on the pulpit and read from Isaiah 7:14, in which a young woman, interpreted by Christians to be a virgin, gives birth to Jesus. For the first time he let his parishioners know that he saw no hint of Christian prophecy in that passage. “That’s when everything, you may say, hit the fan.”

Some church-goers abandoned Saunders, but nearly half of the congregation’s 70 members were moved by the pastor’s change of heart and stayed as Frazier’s Chapel Independent Baptist Church removed its steeple and crosses. “At the time,” Saunders says, “the only thing we knew was what we were not.” After reading about the Seven Laws and studying with a rabbi, Saunders and his remaining flock became Noahides and redubbed their place of worship Frazier’s Chapel B’nai Noach Study Center. “I wanted to be able to read the Hebraic sources by myself,” says Saunders, who has since learned Hebrew. “I didn’t want to be lied to because I’d been lied to by all those Christians.”

It was Texas archaeologist Vendyl Jones who introduced Jim Long to the Seven Laws. The two met in 1993 when Jones appeared on the Dallas radio show that Long produced. A former Baptist preacher, Jones had grown dismayed with what he considered the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Gospels and sought council from rabbis, studied in Israel and became a Noahide. He is believed to have been the inspiration for the character Indiana Jones in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark and is the founder of the Vendyl Jones Research Institute—a nonprofit based in Grandview, Texas, devoted to Biblical archeology. Considered one of the pioneers of the modern Noahide movement, Jones fondly remembers meeting Schneerson in his Brooklyn home and the rabbi’s encouraging words: “‘Vendyl Jones, you are doing the most important work in the world.’”

Long found himself intrigued by Jones’s spiritual journey. Having drifted from denomination to denomination until he abandoned Christianity altogether, Long “was looking for something to fill the void.” Shortly after the radio interview, he began attending Torah classes and joined Jones on archeological digs in the Middle East.

For Pam Rogers, the break with Christianity was more wrenching. Rogers and her husband, Larry, who live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, were members of the Worldwide Church of God, a small Christian movement that observes the Sabbath on Saturdays, before becoming leaders of a Messianic Jewish congregation. In the early 1990s, a Jewish man befriended them and challenged them to prove the validity of the Christian Bible. As the couple tried to defend their views, they came to believe that the New Testament distorted the teachings of the Hebrew Bible.

The decision to become a Noahide threatened to break the Rogers family apart. Pam’s father, a Pentecostal preacher, refused to speak to her for four years. Larry lost his job because he refused to work on Saturdays. The couple almost divorced because Pam made the decision to build her life around the Seven Laws before Larry did. “We lose our children, our spouses, our identities,” Rogers says of the sacrifices that she and other Noahides are often forced to make for their faith.

Despite what might seem an obvious trajectory, following the Seven Laws is not a path to becoming a Jew, says Yakov Cohen of the Schneerson Center. “We’re not interested in membership,” he says.

Rather, the Chabad sees Judaism as a “universal religion” that offers salvation to everyone without conversion.

Jews are not known for proselytizing, and most Jews believe that Judaism prohibits it. David Novak—a Conservative rabbi and leading authority on the Seven Laws and what Judaism requires of non-Jews—debunks that idea. “Find me one halachic prohibition against proselytizing,” he says. The popularly accepted notion that Judaism opposes proselytizing, Novak argues, rests less on theology than on the fact that most of Jewish history has been a perpetual struggle for survival. “For most of the time, Jews couldn’t do it.”

Novak, who teaches at the University of Toronto, points to sporadic attempts to convert people to Judaism throughout history. The best-known effort took place during the time of the Second Temple, which stood from 515 to 70 B.C.E. Living under the Romans, Jews actively proselytized, with great success. Some non-Jews converted, others simply took on aspects of observant Jewish life and became part of Jewish communities. Called the “God Fearers” (Yirei Adonai), they are immortalized in the Book of Psalms.

While Jewish law does not prohibit proselytization, it does not call for a world of Jewish converts, either. The traditional messianic vision, as articulated most famously in the Book of Isaiah, is of a world at peace in which everyone acknowledges one God, even if all do not adopt Judaism:

And many peoples shall go and say: ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares…

Even in a text as familiar as the Aleinu prayer, Jews regularly reference a vision of Jews and non-Jews under a monotheistic ruler—to many, a clear allusion to Noahides:

All the world’s inhabitants will recognize and know that to you, every knee should bend, every tongue should swear. Before You, Lord, our God, they will bend every knee and cast themselves down and to the glory of your name they will render homage, and they will all accept upon themselves the yoke of your kingship, that you may reign over them soon and eternally.


Since the earliest days of Christianity, Jewish sages have argued over whether the Noahide commandment not to worship “false gods” is compatible with other religions.


Islam, the rabbis hold, is acceptable because of its adamantly monotheistic stance. Christianity, on the other hand, remains a subject of contention, with many arguing that belief in the Trinity is polytheistic, and therefore out of bounds under Noahide law.

Another critical debate centers around whether the Seven Laws are a set of universal moral imperatives that people intuit on their own or are precepts that Jews must actively bring to the world. The dominant halachic attitude has been that Jews are not required to spread Noahide teachings to non-Jews. Moses Maimonides, the medieval Jewish philosopher and legal authority, disagreed. In his monumental 12th-century work the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides envisioned a society in which non-Jews would be governed by Jewish law, noting that they could choose to convert. “If they do not want to, we do not compel them to accept the Torah and the commandments. Moses did, however, command in the name of God to compel all people to accept the Noahide laws,” Maimonides continued. “Compel” may seem a particularly strong word, but Maimonides’s stance is clear: Jews must do what they can to teach non-Jews about the Noahide laws.

The 19th century Italian rabbi and famed Kabbalist, Elijah Benamozegh, also believed that Jews have a responsibility to guide non-Jews towards the path of righteousness. Shortly before his death in 1900, Benamozegh received a letter from Frenchman Aimé Pallière seeking advice on converting to Judaism. Benamozegh told the young man there was another way. “The religion of humanity is no other than Noahism,” the rabbi wrote to Pallière. “Here is the religion preserved by Israel to be transmitted to the Gentiles. It is the path which lies open before your efforts, before mine as well, to spread the knowledge thereof, as is my duty to do so.” Called the “first and last high priest of the Noahide religion,” Pallière is believed to have been the first modern Noahide. A talented writer, he learned Hebrew, lectured at the Orthodox Rabbinical School of France and urged Jews to follow Orthodox traditions.

Benamozegh believed “that mankind cannot rise to the essential principles on which society must rest unless it meet[s] with Israel. And Israel cannot fathom the depths of its own national and religious tradition, unless it meet[s] with mankind.” A half-century later, Benamozegh’s dream of a Jewish-supported Noahide worldwide movement would be seized upon by Schneerson. “Every Jew has the obligation to ensure that all the peoples of the world observe the Seven Noahide Laws” and that non-Jews, as well as Jews, “acknowledge God as Creator and ruler of the world,” Schneerson declared.

It’s a position that remains controversial. “If Jews are telling Gentiles what to do, it’s a form of imperialism,” Novak says. To him, the Seven Laws are valuable in constructing a moral foundation that enables Jews to speak out on social issues, but not as part of a religion around which non-Jews should structure their daily lives. “Why would any Gentile want to be told by Lubavitch—or any other rabbi—what to do?” Novak asks. “I am suspicious of anyone who wants to live this way.”

Novak isn’t alone in his suspicions. “With a lot of rabbis, there’s still this skepticism and fear that someone’s trying to infiltrate your shul and will end up being some sort of missionary trying to bring people to Christianity,” Jack Saunders says of the reception Noahides often receive when seeking guidance. Counseling Noahides is not the sort of subject covered in a typical rabbinical school education and rabbis tend to confront the issue only if approached personally by a non-Jew.

Barry Freundel, the author of Contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s Response to Modernity and rabbi of Washington, DC’s Kesher Israel, a modern Orthodox synagogue, is among the many rabbis who have never been approached by a Noahide. Freundel doesn’t share Schneerson’s belief that Jews are required to spread the Noahide laws to non-Jews—but he also doesn’t believe that Jews can ignore interested Noahides. “Once they are doing it, you are required to help them,” he says.

Carol Long wishes there were many more rabbis who were willing to work with Noahides. “They have to know there are actually people out there looking to them for leadership and spiritual guidance and who respect what they bring to the world.”

Today’s Noahide movement has no prescribed ritual and liturgical life.

Even the laws themselves—six out of the seven—are prohibitions such as “don’t kill” and “don’t steal.”

“We need to give more than ‘don’t, don’t, don’t,’” Larry Rogers says. If more people are going to become Noahide, “they have to have a life. They have to know there are life celebrations,” he says. “We’re trying to find our place with Hashem.”

To add greater meaning to their lives, some Noahides have created a lifestyle parallel to that of Orthodox Judaism: They study Jewish texts, pray and follow some of what are known as the “positive commandments”—rituals and other mitzvot. They’ve adopted portions of Jewish liturgy and prayers, removing all mentions of chosenness, to make clear that this concept only applies to Jews.

But “there are so many opinions about Noahide halacha,” says Pam Rogers. “It’s very confusing for us Gentiles.” The Noahide approach to Shabbat illustrates the difficulty of deciding which Jewish traditions to follow. Rogers and her husband try to avoid work and set aside time for a festive meal and prayer, but don’t refrain from using electrical devices. Others may shun the use of electricity but go out of their way to perform at least one activity over the course of Shabbat that distinguishes them from Jews. Jack Saunders, for example, writes a check. “I always do something that makes it known I’m not Israel,” he says.

From his base in New York, Yakov Cohen is working to bring structure to this mosaic of Noahide spiritual life. He and others are creating a Noahide siddur (prayerbook) to standardize prayers, and a liturgy of lifecycle rituals, such as funerals and baby-naming ceremonies. This year, one of the first Noahide weddings was held in Buffalo, New York, under a chuppa. The officiating rabbi spoke of the Seven Laws as the marriage’s foundation and sealed it with a contract modeled after the traditional ketuba. Rabbis are also working on the first-ever Noahide Shulhan Arukh—a comprehensive book of law pertaining to non-Jews, which will spell out the specifics of Noahide life, making clear which mitzvot are acceptable for them and which aren’t. “We know what they can’t do,” says Cohen. “Let’s see what they can do.”

Noahides are few, dispersed, often misunderstood and they crave community.

Lucky ones, like Saunders, find likeminded souls near home with whom to gather together to study Jewish texts, pray, discuss the challenges of the Noahide life and socialize. Local groups, such as the Chavurath B’nei Noach (the Fellowship of the Children of Noah) of Ft. Worth, Texas, serve as an important source of communal life for their members. Organizations such as The Root & Branch Association, Noahide Nations, Rainbow Covenant and B’nai Noach Torah Institute provide advice and support to Noahides wherever they live, often through the Internet.

No single organization, however, is widely recognized as representative of the worldwide movement. That’s partly because of the diffuse and ad hoc nature of Noahide organizations, but it is also reflective of the nature of the movement, which is composed of independent-minded people who have rejected their traditional faith and are willing to follow a largely uncharted spiritual path. “We’re very iconoclastic—we’re all about taking down the idols,” Jim Long says. Saunders puts it more pessimistically: “It seems like every time we try to organize, it doesn’t go well.”

The most recent effort to bring Noahides together comes in the form of High Council of B’nei Noah, an umbrella organization that seeks to fill the leadership vacuum. The High Council’s mission is to provide support for Noahides, educate the general public, serve as a liaison with the Jewish community and standardize Noahide beliefs and practices. Last January, members of the Council—which included Saunders and Long—were inaugurated in Jerusalem, where they recited the following oath:

“I pledge my allegiance to Hashem, God of Israel, Creator and King of the Universe, to His Torah and its representatives, the developing Sanhedrin. I hereby pledge to uphold the Seven Laws of Noah in all their details, according to Oral Law of Moses under the guidance of the developing Sanhedrin.”

The Noahide Council is supported by the respected Orthodox Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, best known for the edition of the Talmud that bears his name, but who’s also the leader of the “developing Sanhedrin” cited in the oath. Steinsaltz’s Sanhedrin is the most recent attempt to revive the Great Sanhedrin of 71 sages who met in Jerusalem until 425 C.E. to discuss matters of concern to the Jewish people and adjudicate disputes. Steinsaltz argues that both Jews and Noahides follow different parts of the same belief system and can even be considered members of the same religion. “Even from simply a utilitarian point of view, we Jews have hardly any friends in the world. B’nei Noah are by definition our closest friends,” he says. “So we should reach out to them.”

Already, the Council has been troubled by internal disagreements and criticism from outsiders. Some Noahides are unhappy that its members were appointed by the Sanhedrin rather than voted on, while others complain that all its members are American. Jack Saunders is among those who have left the Council, tiring of the strife though still supportive of its mission. “For me, it’s a wonderful thing,” he says, but cautions that “working out all the problems is going to be tough.”

Steinsaltz believes the Council—and the broader Noahide community—will overcome these rifts. Long also remains optimistic. A major conference for Noahides in Jerusalem for October 2007, during Sukkot, is in the works and Long hopes it will serve as an inspiration for Noahides worldwide. “We think that we could act as a gesher, a bridge, between Jews and Noahides,” he says.

As a child of a Jewish father, Philip Levy, a 28-year-old Noahide from the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, could walk into any Reform synagogue as a full-fledged member.

But after drifting from Catholicism, his mother’s religion, to evangelical Christianity, he found meaning in Orthodox Judaism. Through the Internet and guided by the local Chabad community, Levy came to self-identify as a Noahide. He takes classes and attends services as a non-Jew at a Chabad synagogue and even created a website, (nova as in Northern Virginia)—in the hope of meeting other Noahides who live nearby. So far, he has only found one.

Why doesn’t Levy take that last step and convert, so he can be considered Jewish according to Orthodox standards and become a full member of the community? Nearly all Noahides grapple with the conversion question, sometimes for years and without definitive conclusion. After all, they adhere to traditional Jewish commandments more strictly than most Jews and many can quote from rabbinic texts as well as yeshiva students.

Some have become Jewish, but they are a minority. For the rest, the reasons for not converting are complicated. “I was raised on bacon and eggs,” Levy jokes, “and if I had to give them up I don’t know what I’d do.” More seriously, he talks about an “attachment” to his “Gentileness” and his respect for his mother.

But for most Noahides the decision not to convert boils down to the fact that they find spiritual fulfillment in what they view as their role in the divine plan for the world: To follow the lead of the Jewish people—not become them. “Israel was chosen to be a nation of kings and priests and a light unto the nations,” Pam Rogers explains. “We decided if everybody converted, who would Israel have to be priests to?”

They believe that they can have a greater impact as non-Jews following the Torah than as Jewish converts, both by encouraging other non-Jews to live according to Noah’s laws and by calling upon Jews to observe their own traditions. “If I just converted and went out to the non-Jewish world talking about the Torah and the prophets and how great it was, then I’d just be another Jew running my mouth,” says Jack Saunders.

To those who take the long view of Jewish history, like University of Toronto professor Novak, the Noahide movement is destined to peter out, as did the Second Temple-era God Fearers. Eventually, Novak reasons, Noahides will return to their original faiths or convert to Judaism. “If you want rabbis to tell you what to do, why not convert to Judaism?” he asks. “It’s an untenable situation.”

A couple of months after meeting the Longs at Mendy’s Kosher Delicatessen, I called them at their home in Arkansas to ask how they envisioned the Noahide future, in 15, 20, or even 50 years. “There will be places in every state and nation where people can go to study and worship,” answered Carol. No other group of Righteous Gentiles has had the tools of modern technology with which to communicate, organize effectively and dispense information. This, Jim said, not only insures the long-term sustainability, but the growth of the Noahide movement. Then he asked me a question: “Do you know what kind of world we would live in if all nations honored the Seven Laws?” He took a quick breath and answered his own query: “It would be transformational. If we were to stop killing, stop stealing, establish real courts of justice everywhere in the world, do you see what would happen? We’d have world peace.” offers just a taste of what MOMENT magazine has to offer.

IDC Conference : 9-20-2017

IDC Conference : 9-20-2017

Welcome to the Summit Conference. Today we will be addressing the The Role of Religious leaders for Building Peaceful and Inclusive Societies and Combating Violent Extremism with Universal Noahide – UN

First, I want to thank our my fellow speakers for their outstanding leadership in this historic event: Mr  Mark Donfiled  and ICD Academy for Cultural Diplomacy

I also wish to thank all of you the future Ambassadors, Delegates, and distinguished guests who have taken the time out of their busy schedule to join us for this important program.

My name is Rabbi Yakov David Cohen and I serve as a Rabbi and an ECOSOC NGO Special Envoy to the UN for The Institute of Noahide Code. In my capacity as Special Envoy for the INC, my responsibilities include human rights issues in the Middle East including defending the rights of Jewish, Christian and Muslim Men, women and children.

I like to open with a story that took place with the former New York Mayor David Dinkins and the Chabad Rebbe Menachem Schneerson in 1991.. …Mayor Dinkins went, both as the Mayor and as the representative of the black community to the Rebbe in Brooklyn, New York, and said, “We pray for the peace of our two communities”. The Rebbe replied, “It is one community, under one G-d, under one administration.”

One people One World under G-D

Some people wonder, can’t we just get along – but everything in life that will function – and certainly function long-term must have both a foundation and a logical premise.

The only way societites – as emperically through thousands of years of human civilization proves – live together, is, if there is a higher ideal.

What can possibly be the higher ideal which unites all of mankind?

What we all have in common is three things:

  1. Each and every one of us is a creation of our heavenly father G-D
  2. Each and every one of us (including all species, plants, even minerals) have a cosmic goal in the tapestry and symphony that produces the beauty and melody called humanity –
  3. The Creator has specifically taught the Jewish people, passed down from Moses, a universal Noahide ethical code and by us all humbly accepting, we introduce this higher ideal.

I read a personal ad in the paper: Homeless!  (JOKE)

Seeking home, will pay rent, utilities, looking to make the world a better place, will provide good company – G-D.

Each and every one of us makes a home for G-d by keeping the Universal Noahide code!

The Universal Noahide Code is one for peace.. Jewish Sages explain that a wonder of G-d’s creation is that, although the face of every human being is essentially the same, no two people are identical.  As facial features differ, so too, the workings of no two minds are alike.  Since differences are an inherent dimension of G-d’s Creation, no society should try to stifle these differences.  They should not only be tolerated, but encouraged as a  springboard for growth. Humankind is created in the Divine Image.  Given that this House is one of peace, we must within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, attempt to promote these values not only globally, but specially, immediately in our surroundings.

The Torah message is Universal.  Torah was ultimately given for peace.  Peace between man and G-d, and peace between man and man.  The first Five Commandments are the relationship between man and G-d, whereas the last five deal with man’s relation to his fellow human being.  These values are eternal, and are encompassed in the Universal Noahide Code. The truth of the matter is that before there was any formal religion there was only Noah, a man who withstood the tides/norms of his day and went against all of the trends of his time, for he considered these to be unethical, indecent Noah took it upon himself to serve and obey the One G-d.   His example was as valid today as it was then.   It is critical for all of us, that we, the representatives of many different people affirm and commit publicly to the basic premise, that people respect the very core fabric of life given by the Creator.  These are contained within the Seven Universal Codes of Noah, a way of life that expresses and makes the human being commit, to honoring first of all, the Creator, and ultimately, His Creation.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals envision zero hunger, no poverty, decent work and economic growth.  May I propose that in the Universal Noahide Codes, the belief in one G-d, promotes equal treatment for all human beings.  Humankind’s unity reflects G-d’s indivisibility.  The respect for human life envisioned in the Noahide Codes, also promotes respect that no human being is to be deprived of food as we are seeing regrettably in Syria, in North Korea, as a means of social control, of beating people into deprivation as a means of subjugation.  The respect for decent work and economic growth requires us to take into account, the right of all human beings to be remunerated properly for their work that local practices be taken into account by any multinational wishing to invest in a particular area.  It is a way of balancing profit with the needs and culture and livelihoods of those either employed or impacted by business.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals also promote partnering for all the goals we wish for humanity, as well as the promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions.

May I further propose, that the Universal Noahide Codes also envision this.  There is no greater partnership than the nucleus of society which is the family, the respect for human life within the family, the respect for the most vulnerable, which are the young, the weak and the infirm and the old.  And although not politically popular, may I suggest that the respect for the unborn is also a component of the first partnering of humans.  A future partner of society should be respected.  Everyone here present today, is here, because your right to be born was respected.  May I ultimately suggest as well, is that the Universal Noahide Codes also strengthen the notion of promoting justice, because in its core, the concept of the creation of a judicial system is paramount.  As is often said, there is no peace, without justice.

We have all and are all created by G-d – in fact in this sense we have something in common not only with all humans, but also with animals, vegetation and even rocks and non-living creations, with the Universe itself.  We need a vigorous proactive campaign which is what I am proud my organization Institute of Noahide Code stands for, in which all people, all people, are elevated through the deep appreciation that their lives are a choice – God chose them, as He loves to see each human being bring light, love, unity and harmony to his or her surroundings, to the world at large.  When we all realize we are His ambassadors, each and everyone of us, not only do we do good, but this gives us an inner feeling of worth and as we add respect to ourselves, love to the core, to reflect this to the rest of the world, by extending that to each and every person.

For us to have UNITY we need ONE AND ONLY G-D and for G-d to have UNITY HE needs us!

We had a giant in the United States, may his memory be a blessing.

Dr. Martin Luther King queried those around him:  “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is:  What are you doing for others?”

The Rebbe Menachem Schneerson also taught us that a “Little light can dispel a lot of darkness”.   Not far from this concept, and in terms of love, which is the underlying theme that humanity craves for, Dr. King added:  Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”.

But what is love based on?    Love, as Jewish mysticism teaches us, is realizing that we are but one heart in many bodies, one universal mission, affirming that each one of us has been made in the image of our Maker, challenged to rise above instinctual selfish instincts and invite a Divine purpose, mission and meaning in our life.  We can only achieve this objective, in the manner of respect, of establishing court systems, by creating partnerships that include the basic core of society which is the family unit, the respect for human life, through food, equitable respect for the rights, needs of others.  We include in this, the environment, as well as our fellow animal creatures, His entire Creation.

Practically, by each of us dedicating our lives individually to this recognition that “I am not a biological being, born one day, to die another”, rather “I am an ambassador of our Creator to add in the goodness and kindness of this world, I take upon myself the responsibility to share this message – the message of truth, the message of empathy, the message of love”.  Then and only then, can truly the vision of the U.N. be realized and speedily fulfilled, as the great prophet Isaiah expressed  ‘that they will beat their swords into plowshares and no nation will make war ever again’.

Sweet New Year!!!




IDC – Chabad UES NY NY USA on 9 20, 2017 [email protected]

Abortion and Jewish Law

Abortion and Jewish Law – Partial birth abortion

By: Rabbi Yakov D. Cohen

The sanctity and infinite worth of every human being is a quintessential Jewish value, grounded in the biblical notion that man is created in the divine image and likeness to the creator. According to the Mishnah (Sanhendrin 4:5) “Whoever destroy one life is as if he destroyed a whole world”.

Abortion is permitted, and perhaps even required in cases of serious danger to the mother according to Jewish perspectives. However for convenience it is prohibited. When the majority of the fetus has emerged… the mother and the child are co-equal and you can not take one life / soul for another life / soul.

In essence abortion is judged to be the unwarranted taking of a life within a life it is the same prohibitionas as murder. Unless the Torah / Jewish law permits it.

One of the ultimate goals of man is the imitation of G-d. We do this in every good act, paralleling G-d’s own creation of good. The most direct way that we can do this, however, is in our actions toward our fellow man.

G-d’s purpose in creation could have been fulfilled with the creation of a single creature to accept His good. Such a creature, however, could never truly resemble G-d. G-d Himself is a bestower of good, and if only one creature existed, then to whom would it do good? Certainly not to G-d, for G-d has no needs. It is for this reason that G-d created the world as an arena for an entire species of man.

When G-d first created man, Adam was one. G-d then said (Genesis 2:18), “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper as his counterpart.” As long as man was alone, he could not really be good. For to be good is to imitate G-d, the giver of good. A man alone would have no one to whom to bestow good, and therefore, could not be called “good.” This is what G-d meant when He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” G-d then created woman as a counterpart of man.

Man also imitates G-d by becoming His partner in the procreation of children. Just as G-d is a Creator, so man also becomes a creator of life. Our Sages therefore teach us that there are three partners in the procreation of a child: his father, his mother and G-d. The sexual act is the vehicle through which man displays this aspect of his partnership with G-d, and this is one reason why its perversion is considered among the worst of sins (Derech Mitzvotecha by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch).

In a spiritual sense, the good that man does also benefits every other human being. Thus, in doing good, one is at least indirectly benefiting his fellow man, even in the case of ritual laws that do not directly do so. Our Sages thus teach us that every person is morally responsible for every other. The author of Reshit Chochmah explains that all souls are bound together, as with rope, and the movement of one is reflected in every other. This is what the Torah means when it says (Numbers 16:22), “One man sins, and anger is directed against the entire community.” The Midrash provides us with an excellent example illustrating this: A number of people are sitting in a small boat. All of a sudden, one man begins to drill a hole under his seat. When the people complain, he retorts, “What complaint do you have? After all, I’m drilling the hole under my own seat.” Finally, a wise man answers him, “We are all in the same boat. The hole may be under your seat, but the water that comes in will make the boat sink with all of us in it.”

In a spiritual sense, we are all in the same boat. Every good thing that we do affects all mankind. In every good act that we do, we imitate G-d insofar as we ultimately bring good to all humanity. This is indeed one reason why G-d put us all in the same spiritual boat.

Of course, we do this more directly when we do good toward our fellow man. This is the archetype of all good. There is no way of imitating G-d more closely than in doing good to others.

The Talmud says that we bind ourselves to G-d by imitating His ways. But in what ways does the Talmud say that we imitate G-d? Look at its words carefully:

Just as G-d clothes the naked, so shall you. Just as G-d visits the sick, so shall you. Just as G-d comforts the bereaved, so shall you.

Elsewhere, the Talmud says that we must also imitate G-d in His mercy and compassion. The general lesson is that we resemble G-d most in our relationship with our fellow human beings.

This concept is best exemplified by the famous story of Hillel. The Talmud tells us that a non-Jew once came to Hillel and said, “I wish to convert to Judaism, but only if you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.”

Hillel replied, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the core of Judaism. The rest is mere commentary.”

Many of the commentators find this story very perplexing. The commandments dealing with our relationship toward our fellow man are certainly very important. But there are also many other important commandments that apparently have nothing at all to do with other people. How could Hillel have dismissed these as mere commentary?

What Hillel was teaching us, however, was that the main reason for all the commandments is the imitation of G-d, and that this is exemplified by our relations with our fellow human beings. We must deal with our fellows just as G-d deals with us. In doing so, we fulfill His purpose in creation. This imitation of G-d is ultimately the purpose of all the commandments.

This is also the meaning of what G-d told His prophet (Jeremiah 22:16), “He judged the cause of the poor and needy, and it was well. Is this not to know Me?” As discussed earlier, we can only know G-d by drawing close to Him through imitating Him. G-d is telling us that the main way in which we know Him is by imitating Him in doing good to others.

There is a commandment in the Torah (Leviticus 19:18), “You shall love your neighbor like yourself.” One of our foremost leaders, Rabbi Akiba, said, “This commandment is the core of the Torah.” Rabbi Akiba is teaching us the same lesson as Hillel. We imitate G-d’s love for the world through our love toward our fellow man. In this way, we draw ourselves close to G-d and fulfill His purpose in creation.

In a deeper sense, the concept of love itself is the archetype of spiritual closeness. Where a bond of love exists between two people, they are close — even though they may be separated by vast distances. On the other hand, people who hate each other are far apart, even when they are sitting right next to each other. Love and hate exist in a spiritual, rather than a physical dimension. Love between two people implies a harmony and complementarity between them. It is this harmony that makes them close, irrespective of physical distance. In obeying G-d’s commandments, we seek to bring a similar harmony and closeness between ourselves and G-d. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is therefore indeed the prime rule of the Torah. It not only leads us to a closeness to G-d, but also teaches us the meaning of such closeness.

Following a similar line of reasoning, we can understand what our Sages mean when they teach us, “He who denies the doing of kindness (Gemilut Chassadim) is like one who denies the most fundamental principle (G-d Himself).” G-d is the ultimate bestower of kindness, and one who divorces himself from such deeds, places himself poles apart from G-d. G-d is the ultimate doer of good, and this man denies doing good. He is therefore said to be like one who divorces himself from G-d.

G-d is the source of all life, and therefore, the more one resembles G-d, the more he partakes of life. One who clings to G-d is said to be truly alive, as the Torah says (Deuteronomy 4:4), “You who have clung to G-d are all alive today.” We thus find (Proverbs 10:2), “Charity saves from death.” When one gives, he resembles his Creator, the source of all life.

High-Level Panel on The Role of Parliaments for Building Peaceful and Inclusive Societies and Combating Violent Extremism

High-Level Panel on The Role of Parliaments for Building Peaceful and Inclusive Societies and Combating Violent Extremism

UN Headquarters, New York, 21 July, 15.00 -18.00


Co-organisers UNESCO, the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN, Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics

With the Patronage of H.E. Prof. Frederico Mayor, President, Fundacion Cultura de Paz

Keynote Speakers: 

  • Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
  • Mr Jehangir Khan, USG and Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Implementation Task Force
  • Mr Jehangir Khan, USG and Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Implementation Task Force
  • H.E. Ambassador Kiarat Abdrakhmanov, Permanent Representative of Kazahstan to the UN
  • Video Address, H.E. Frederico Mayor

Moderator: Gianni Picco, former USG
Panel 1 – The Call for National Legislation to Implement the Culture of Peace and Combat Violent Extremism

  • MEP. Lara Comi, EU Parliament Representative (Italy)
  • M.P. Saman Jafri, Member of Parliament of Pakistan
  • The Honorable Diane Watson, U.S. Congress(rt) and former Ambassador
  • M.P. Oezcan Mutlu, Representative from Bundestag, German
  • M.P. Jalila Morsli, Member of Parliament of Morocco
  • Video Address – Senator Pier Ferdinando Casini, Chairman, Italian Senate Foreign Affairs Committee

Panel 2- The Multi Track Partnership of Religious Leaders, Educators and the Media in Putting the Legislation into Action

  • Dr. Lahoucide Khabid, President, Atlas Center for Diplomacy in Morocco
  • Dr. Boris Pincus, President, Religions in Dialogue
  • Imam Agha Jafri, Founder, American Muslim Congress
  • Rabbi Yakov David Cohen, President UN NGO Institute of Noahide Code
  • Dr. Wafik Moustafa, Chairman, Muslim Conservative Network UK
  • Rev. Thomas Del Balle-Reyes, Catholic Holy Cross Church
  • Shoshana Nicole Bekerman, Director, Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics

Moderator: Mayor Martin Oliner
Affiliated Sponsors: 

  • Alsadiqin
  • American Muslim Congress
  • American Association of Central Asian and Caucasian Countries Religions in Dialogue
  • Australia Oriental Media Buddhist Charity Association
  • The Institute for Noahide Code, UN NGO, Atlas Center for Diplomacy

22.07.2016 – ODG

Building peace starts on the parliamentarians’ benches as much as on the benches of schools

On 21 July, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, addressed a High-Level Panel on “The Role of Parliaments for Building Peaceful and Inclusive Societies and Combatting Violent Extremism”, organized by the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, UNESCO, and the Interparliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics, at UN Headquarters in New York.
“Building peace and preventing violent extremism cannot be won with hard power only”, stated the Director-General. “We need soft power also, we need to win the battle of ideas, through education, through democratic debate, through a better understanding of each other’s cultures and religions” she continued. “Parliaments play a critical role to address the challenges of our times, when not everything can be solved at the level of Governments or United Nations Agencies alone,” said the Director-General in her opening speech highlighting that “parliamentarians have the unique power to bring solutions closer to the people, and make sure their needs and concerns are at the heart of our response.”

The event brought together parliamentarians and representatives of the diplomatic community, the United Nations system and civil society in an effort to establish a closer collaboration on the development of a culture of peace and preventing the unprecedented rise of violent extremism. It aimed at the adoption of legislation for mandatory education on culture of peace and measures to prevent terrorism and violent extremism. It also aimed at strengthening the multi-track diplomacy partnership, to engage governments, the UN system, religious, academic, and media leaders to fulfil their respective roles to implement such aligned legislation. The Director-General gave an overview of UNESCO’s action worldwide to prevent and counter violent extremism stating that “this starts on the benches of school, it must start with peace education, with textbooks and curricula that teach human rights, to prepare individuals to live as responsible citizens. Ms Emilia Gatto, Minister Plenipotentiary of the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, stressed that “there are no easy answers… we need to tackle the root causes of violent extremism, including marginalization, inequalities, discrimination, human rights violations, and hate speech, using the full toolbox offered by Agenda 2030”. H.E. Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations, urged that a long-term and comprehensive approach was needed to preventing and countering violent extremism, involving also regional and international cooperation, as a true requirement to deliver on the 2030 Agenda.

In his intervention, Mr Jehangir Khan, Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, noted the key importance of dialogues with parliamentarians who represented the “citizens of the world”. He argued that violent extremism was one of the great challenges of the 21st century in particular in terms of preventing and saving the young generations from engaging in violent extremism. He also recalled the UN Secretary-General’s global plan of action, developed by the entire UN system.

Ms Hanifa Mezoui, Senior Advisor of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, commended UNESCO for having issued the Organization’s 2016 “Teacher’s Guide on the Prevention of Violent Extremism”. Ms Mezoui presented projects of the Alliance of Civilizations, aimed at strengthening religious cooperation and working through mediation as a form of preventive diplomacy.

The keynote session concluded with an address by Federico Mayor, President of the Foundation Culture de Paz, who recalled the important role of the UN High-Level Forum on a ‘culture of peace’, and urged parliamentarians to be at the forefront of the fight against extremist ideologies.


Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics
The Role of Parliaments for Building Peaceful and Inclusive Societies and Combating Violent Extremism