Diverse members of Omaha’s faith community came together Wednesday evening to pray for the nation’s damaged social bonds following the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol.
A virtual vigil for democracy organized by the Tri-Faith Initiative and others drew about 200 participants across Zoom, Facebook and YouTube, said Wendy Goldberg, executive director of the initiative.
Before the event started, people spoke quietly with each other across social media.
“What a wonderful thing to have this tonight,” one woman said. “We needed this.”
The vigil began with the singing of a Jewish prayer, Ose Shalom, by the Temple Israel Choir.
Imam Jamal Daoudi of the American Muslim Institute sang a prayer and concluded by saying: “I pray for safety and peace for our dear country.”
In her remarks, Goldberg said that Wednesday was not the new start Americans had sought in 2021.
“I join you tonight with a heavy heart,” she said. “I know we all invested a lot with 2021 being a new opening, a new day, a new year.”
The Tri-Faith Initiative can be a model for bridging differences during times of extreme division, she said. The initiative brings Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities together on a single campus.
“We need to find a way to open our hearts to deeply listen,” she said. “Our future as a republic is only possible if we can heal the wounds of today.”
Rabbi Brian Stoller of Temple Israel spoke of his time working at the Capitol and the reverence he felt for building and the work done there.
“The U.S. Capitol building is the symbol of American democracy,” he said. Noting the fear workers and lawmakers must have felt, he offered a prayer for them.