Abrahamic Faiths working Partners in the Service of God.

Abrahamic faiths should and can be working partners in the service of God.

Land buys a big Tri-Faith leap

By Christopher Burbach:  WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Omaha Jewish, Muslim and Christian organizations have purchased land for neighboring houses of worship, and at least one, Temple Israel, plans to begin construction in the spring of 2012, leaders of the Tri-Faith Initiative said Tuesday.

Construction also is expected to begin next year on a planned fourth building, called a Tri-Faith Center, with social, educational and conference facilities that all the groups could use.

A synagogue for Temple Israel, a mosque and study center for the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture, a church for the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska and the Tri-Faith Center would be built near 132nd and Pacific Streets, as part of a development on the site of the former Ironwood Country Club.

Leaders announced Tuesday that each entity had purchased land for its building. They consider that a major leap toward a dream, five years in the making, of a shared campus for Jews, Muslims and Christians.

“This is probably the first time that Jews and Christians and Muslims have collaborated to intentionally co-locate houses of worship in the same common neighborhood,” said Bob Freeman, chairman of the Tri-Faith Initiative Board of Directors.

The announcement attracted about 100 people, including members of the various religious organizations. Each group plans its own facility and has been raising money individually.

Temple Israel will move from its current location at 70th and Cass Streets and is ready to begin building “as soon as the snow melts,” Rabbi Aryeh Azriel said. He hopes it will be done in time for the High Holy Days in 2013.

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