For Rachel and Manuel Rider, Sunday night’s at was special.
“Since our family is an interfaith family, this is a pretty meaningful service for us,” said Rachel Rider, as she sat in a pew before the start of the 20th annual service, organized by the Northwest Suburban Interfaith Council and attended by more than 800 people.
Rachel is Jewish, Manuel is Catholic; they are raising their son, Alex, to appreciate both religions.
For this family, the interfaith service was just another way to send an important message to their son and others in the community.
“Diversity is normal,” Manuel Rider said. “In the end, the message is about God and it’s a unified message. A separation of different beliefs.”
Rachel Rider said the family celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas.
“You have traditions for each, so we are able to join it together,” she said.
The theme of unity was echoed by speaker after speaker during the service, which included speeches and music from representatives of Hope Lutheran Church, St. Mary, , Congregation Beth Judea, , and other area congregations.
Jay Jayapalan, president of the Interfaith Council, said the service provided “an opportunity for people of different faiths to come together and break the ice sort of, to meet each other and go on to other activities.”
Lisa Baier of Buffalo Grove attended the service with her 10-year-old daughter, Alexis.
“I think it’s important to share the other religions in the area with my children,” she said.
It gives her the chance to teach an important lesson.
“We should all live together in peace and harmony, and it shows in this service that we can do that. Outside of our community, as well.”
Alexis, a student at , said she enjoyed the service because it gave her a chance to “learn about different religions.”
Rabbi Stephen Hart of Temple Chai called the event “one of my favorite services of the year.” He said it was a chance to “express gratitude and count blessings.”
Pastor Michael McPherson of Hope Lutheran Church summed up the evening's message.
“We may not come at things with the same perspective and certainly not with the same detailed beliefs,” he said, “but it is exactly within that diversity and difference that we find a richness to learn from one another and agree to disagree, and yet be bonded together by God’s love and enabled by that same love to live and play and work together.”