Interfaith Paths to Peace held a gala celebrating its 20th anniversary of peacemaking on Thursday, October 6, at Second Presbyterian Church. The gala, which was also IPP’s seventh annual My Recipe for Peace dinner, drew a large crowd.
Amid the celebration of peacemaking, IPP’s executive director, Haleh Kaimi, took time to pay tribute to a long-time IPP supporter and member, Lee B. Thomas, who recently passed away.
To honor him, IPP renamed their highest annual award the Lee B. Thomas Peacemaker of the Year Award, and presented it to another prominent peacemaker from Louisville who passed away this year, Muhammad Ali. Mayor Greg Fischer accepted the award on Ali’s behalf.
This year, there were five presenters who gave their recipes for peace and submitted actual recipes to distribute to all attendees.
Marta Miranda, president and CEO of the Center for Women and Families, spoke about the interplay of power and control and called on those present to oppose violence, to recognize that within each of us there is both victim and perpetrator, and saying that “We are all responsible for each other.
Matt Goldberg, Jewish Community Relations Council director, talked about the many diverse projects he works with in his job – advocacy for Israel and for Jewish students in public schools, working with legislators at all levels about issues of concern to the Jewish community, ensuring Holocaust education continues across the community and working for social justice. He identified peace and peacemaking as the common thread in all his work.
Ruthie Belza, a 15-year-old student at Mercy Academy who has been working for peace since she was in Fred Whittaker’s class at St. Francis of Assisi in the sixth grade, said she views peace as an action that must be pursued, not a gift that is given. She said, “May God bless us with anger” against injustice and exploitation. She recounted how Holocaust Survivor Fred Gross shared his story of survival and empowered her and her peers. “I hope it sparked anger in them,” she said, “the right kind of anger to spark change.”
Community activist Christopher 2X brought three victims of gun violence with him, and explained how each of them overcame their injuries and today they are “ambassadors for peace” in our community.
Dr. Muhammad Babar, president of Muslim Americans for Compassion, is a frequent participant and leader in interfaith activities and is always doing things to make life better for others. This time, however, he spoke urgently of a personal problem. He and his family are Muslims and he has two sons who attend public schools.
This year, it is his family that is suffering from prejudice. “How long will it take,” he asked, “before my family will enjoy the same respect as others” instead of being forced into hiding after a terrorist attack. “Like every other child,” he continued, “my sons also deserve to enjoy Pokemon rather than wonder what other students think of them and their faith.”
Harry Pickens and John Gage provided music for the event. LIFEbar and Ramsi’s Café catered the event.