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Rabbi Alon Goshen Gottstein Addresses the Community Plenary

Rabbi Alon Goshen Gottstein addressed the Community Plenary at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

Thank you everyone. Thank you for being here. Something one can’t take for granted. It’s about community. It’s about a story. It’s about a story that’s been going on for 25 years, and I want to focus on the last part of it and the future of that story because I’d like to invite all of you and all of your friends to be part of an unfolding story, a story of a community. 

I’d like to begin the story by showing a clip that will provide us with a context of the movement of Friends Across Faiths, which we are launching here. We came to the Parliament in order to take the notion of friendship that we have been developing now for a number of years amongst premier religious leaders and to turn it into a movement of education, prayer and counter and service that I invite all of you to join and the next 6.56 minutes will be devoted to that. Let’s begin with a video.

Thank you for that. Thank you for screening that. And I’d like to move on to the next steps. The next steps are what lead to the Friends Across Faiths initiatives. The initial is FAFI. All football lovers will know FIFA. We are not Fifa, we are FAFI. So we have Fafi, learn, pray, and serve as the mission. 

So, here’s what happened, following the release before the COVID of this phenomenal statement that had a reach of 200 million, we went ahead to create the Friendship Declaration. The Friendship Declaration was developed by 60 leaders from the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders. We’re not going to be able to read it through, but just to show you the scope of it, it’s all available on the website,, there’ll be a QR code at the end.

The important thing is that we want religious leaders to sign the Friendship Declaration and to give it greater power, and we want everyone to download resources for learning more and understanding about friendship. And from the initial campaign, and from the Friendship Declaration, we seek to create the Friends Across Faiths movement that will provide each and every one of you, religious leaders and members of their communities, with the range of learning opportunities and counter online programs, pilgrimage, activities in the community, global chain prayers, opportunities for meeting in small groups, in large groups, in short, taking the notion of friendship and creating a global community based on that.

Initially, following this launch, this movement will have two foci. The first focus is on the very notion of friendship. We will be releasing about 40 teachings of videos by religious leaders explaining the value of friendship across religions as a religious value, not just as a social need. The second track that is being run by my partner, a global climatarian, I can’t find the word for it, activist for climate who has a vast experience with world-class projects in India and elsewhere, will be a track of working on religion and sustainability and environmental issues.

Those two tracks will be launched with content, activity, invitation, and all we are asking for you is something very simple. We would like you to join. We would be grateful if at the end of this particular presentation, you don’t clap, the claps are nice. I’d much rather you use your hands for something else. With one hand, hold your phone, with the other hand, scan, go on the website, sign as someone who would like to remain in contact, part of that movement, and to receive the information of what a global network of friendship to learn, pray, serve, and meet can bring to your life, share it with others, help us to grow a movement. 

The Parliament has been very excited at the thought of the FAFI movement growing out of the Parliament. I’m grateful to the Parliament for making it possible. I’m grateful to you for signing up. Please go here, and I look forward to future opportunities to serve, to encounter, to come together. Thank you very much.

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