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Tears, Healing at Interfaith Service

At Good Shepherd, many grieved fallen first responders and sought commonality in their faiths

Firefighters and first responders come from all walks of life, but come together for all calls for help. The race, creed, color or religion of those in need couldn't matter less to them.

It was a theme recognized in a heart-felt service at Lutheran Church Sunday night, where about 200 local people from a wide range of faiths came together to mourn the victims of 9/11 but also to praise those willing to lay down their lives for their fellow man.

Leaders from the various denominations present, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and various Christian denominations sought to find common ground. The message over and again from the pulpit was of finding peace on earth among all mankind.

Leading the interfaith service was the Rev. Eric Olaf Olsen, Good Shepherd's pastor, said his life was changed by 9/11 after ministering to those in mourning. It changed him, he said. He wound up volunteering as one of Nassau County's fire chaplains.

The service was designed to pay special tribute to the men and women who risk their lives so that others may live. A large contingent of Plainview volunteer firefighters, in full-dress uniform, were present. Olsen wore his Class-A uniform as well, bearing cross insignias on his lapels beneath a white clerical collar.

The names of FDNY members who also served as Nassau County volunteer firefighters and died on 9/11 were read by their brother firefighters. Plainview Fire Chief Craig Robinson struck a mournful bell for each of the 18 men.

Firefighters and members of the congregation fought tears hearing the names of their friends and comrades. And as Kirsten Jansky sang "Angel," many in the church comforted each other.

Lois Bisca, co-warden of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church vestry, prayed to free us "from the urge for vengeance to the works of justice...."

The Rev. Akio Iyoda, English Ministry Pastor of Good Shepherd Joun Mokcha Church, proclaimed the Unity Prayer, asking God to "Bless the people and leaders of this nation and all nations so that warfare, like slavery before, may become only a historic memory."

Dr. Mufti Farhan Mghal of the Masjid Al-Baqi Mosque in Bethpage, translated the opening chapter of the Holy Quran. It begins: "All praise is due to Allah...the merciful."

In his benediction, Rabbi David Senter struck a perfect chord between the past and the future: "September 11 was a day to remember," said the leader of the "But September 12 is also a day to remember. It brought into the light the men and women who put their lives on the line for us ever day."

"We are truly one nation under G-d in an amazing way," said Senter. We came together as a people in a very tangible way."

Senter then intoned the shofar, the ancient symbol of renewal sounded at the High Holy Days.

The Plainview-JFK High School Choir, under the direction of Adam Paltrowitz, provided additional music.

Congregations participating Sunday included:

Plainview's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Manetto Hill Jewish Center, , Masjid Al-Baqi Mosque, , and


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