Interfaith leaders urge solidarity in snow video
Video collage offers prayers to warm the spirit
When Boston suffers a major trauma, the city’s interfaith leaders often organize a prayer service in hope of offering comfort in faith and solidarity.
But when the series of huge snowstorms over the past month left Bostonians feeling frustrated, weary, and profoundly — well, stuck at home — what could religious leaders do?
“You can’t exactly have a big gathering of folks,” said the Rev. Burns Stanfield, president of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. “It’s hard to just get your own congregation together.”
And so a group of the city’s Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders have taken to YouTube, posting on Friday a homemade interfaith prayer video urging people to draw strength from one another, and to help one another out.
“We are in this together,” say the faith leaders in video clips, standing amid snowdrifts and icicles outside their houses of worship. “We have each other . . . to tend and befriend, with an errand, with a casserole, with a phone call, with a prayer.”
The Rev. Nancy Taylor, who is shown falling into a large snowbank, said the faith leaders wanted to convey two messages.
“First, we feel your pain, Boston, for this cold is brutish and dangerous,” Taylor, senior minister of Old South Church in Copley Square, said in an e-mail. “Second . . . in the foreseeable future, any warmth we can generate will come from human kindness. Such warmth is worth a lot. It can be a game-changer.”
The Rev. Jay Williams of Union United Methodist Church, who grips a shovel in the video, broadcast the sermon via YouTube last Sunday when a snowstorm forced his church to close.
“We’ve all just been trying to be creative and using technology to stay connected to one another, to our churches and faith communities, despite the obvious impediment,” Williams said.
Suzan M. El-Rayess, director of development at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, is shown speaking on the mosque’s chilly front steps.
“It was freezing,” she recalled with a laugh. But she loved the knit-together piece, framed by Eric Clapton’s “Hard Times Blues” and Sam Cooke’s rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.” “It was such a beautiful message.”
Others featured include Rabbi Matthew Soffer of Temple Israel of Boston, who helped edit and distribute the piece; the Rev. Dan Smith of First Church Cambridge; the Rev. Rosemary Lloyd, adviser to the faith-based community for the Cambridge nonprofit the Conversation Project.
Also, the Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, of Trinity Church in Copley Square; Cantor Jodi Sufrin of Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley; Rabbi Ronne Friedman of Temple Israel; Imam Ismail Fenni of the Islamic Society of Boston in Cambridge; the Rev. Dr. Ray Hammond of Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plain; and the Rev. June R. Cooper of the City Mission Society of Boston.
Do the clergy hope their creation will go viral?
“We’re all shaped by the messages we receive and the messages we send to others,” Soffer said. “The hope is, yes, people will watch this, but also that people will send it to other people, and in doing that, they’ll also be sending positive messages to other people.
“There is a Hebrew phrase — ‘Mitzvah goreret mitzvah,’ or ‘one mitzvah leads to another,’ ” he said. “In this case, I would translate it as, ‘Mitzvahs, or good deeds, have a snowballing effect.’ ”