Three women became friends: a Jew, a Christian and a Moslem. As their trust in one another grew, they decided to bring this tenuous connection back to their faith communities, and the Abraham Festival was born. Their idea was to explore commonalities, starting with common roots in the story of Abraham. Personally I made connections and friendships across boundaries which previously had felt impenetrable. At one early event, I met a Moslem man who told me, “This is the first time that I have been inside the same room with a Jew.” Now we have not only been inside the same room, but eaten at the same table, and learned that many of the traditions and values we thought were ours alone are shared from our Abrahamic roots. The history of Christians and Muslems and Jews has been very painful, and the work of building trust across these barriers is delicate and frequently difficult. Still, the festival and those who organize it have persevered. Out of it has come a remarkable degree of communication and friendship in our city, that has manifested dramatically from time to time, in vigils where we mourned together, and in support from the synagogue and churches when there was an arson attack at the mosque. The work is not over, but there is something to draw from now.
Margaret Slavin

Society of Friends (Quakers)

The Abraham Festival is in part a symbolic tent that is thrown open for people of different faiths to join together for celebrations and conversations.

It strengthens/nurtures understanding, acceptance and friendship. It helps to define who we are as a community because it’s how we treat each other that will truly guide our future as a community.

By building these relationships, the Abraham Festival contributes to the creation of a welcoming, progressive and prosperous community.

Daryl Bennett

Mayor of Peterborough

For the past 14 years, the Abraham Festival of Peterborough has annually brought together the city’s Christians, Muslims and Jews to explore our differences and similarities. It has helped these three religions to understand one another, and foster unity and harmony. As the President of Beth Israel Synagogue in Peterborough for the past 15 years, I can strongly endorse the outstanding work of the Abraham Festival.

The work of the Abraham Festival was very apparent following the terrible hate crime of arson which was inflicted to Peterborough’s only mosque in November of 2015. In the aftermath of the fire, the Muslim community of Peterborough did not have their own house of worship to pray in. In response, the churches and synagogue of Peterborough opened their doors and the Muslim community accepted these offers. It must be recognized that the Abraham Festival had already built the links that made this possible through their wonderful work in the years before.

Larry Gillman

President, Beth Israel Synagogue, Peterborough

The Peterborough Police Service welcomes the many efforts of local citizens who are building bridges and connections in our community.

The Abraham Festival is a wonderful example of how we can move beyond the surface of what appears to make us different and find roots that unite us and make us stronger together.

Crime prevention is more than locks, bolts or security cameras. The heart of crime prevention is healthy relationships and supporting each other with both respect and compassion. It is peace making.
We know that the safety and well-being of any community can be measured by the strength and resilience of the relationships between its members.

Thank you to the Abraham Festival for showing that the values and principles of faith transcend religious divide and for creating opportunities for community members to gather together to learn, explore and find common ground in diversity.

Murray C. Rodd

Chief of Police

Peterborough is a welcoming community. This is no accident. Leadership from a range of sectors has created a resilient and inclusive community we call home. The Abraham Festival has been a significant contributor to these results. For nearly two decades, the volunteers at the Abraham Festival have brought our community together for meaningful and courageous conversations that celebrate the diversities of our faiths while finding common ground in our dreams and aspirations for a better world. These annual multi-faith, intergenerational conversations and workshops serve as an example to all who pursue peace and provide yet another reason to treasure Peterborough—Kawartha.

Peterborough est une communauté accueillante. Ce n’est pas un hasard. Le leadership d’une gamme de secteurs a créé une communauté résiliente et inclusive que nous appelons notre chez nous. Le Festival d’Abraham a contribué de manière significative à ces résultats. Pendant près de deux décennies, les bénévoles du Festival d’Abraham ont réuni notre communauté pour des conversations significatives et courageuses qui célèbrent la diversité de nos fois et nous permettent de partager ensemble nos rêves et nos aspirations pour un monde meilleur. Ces conversations et ateliers intergénérationnels annuels servent d’exemple à tous ceux qui promeuvent la paix et fournissent encore une autre raison de valoriser Peterborough-Kawartha.

Maryam Monsef

Minister of Status of Women, MP for Peterborough—Kawartha

There are moments in each of our lives when we feel part of something extremely important. I felt that 15 years ago being a founding member of Peterborough’s Abraham Festival.

More than ever today, people misunderstand others simply because they are different. And like the three Abrahamic faiths, we often fail to see the greater unity there and to celebrate our diversity.

We need to continue our work. The world depends on it!

Father Paul Massel

Faith Animator and Chaplain, The Catholic Education Centre