By Brian J. Grim, Ph.D. This is part of our ongoing blog series, Authenticity & Connection.
We’re just two months out from Davos 2022, the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). From January 17-21, 2022, the world’s foremost business, government and civil society leaders will convene in person in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, to address economic, environmental, political and social fault-lines exacerbated by the pandemic.
With the stated commitment of “improving the state of the world,” religion has long had a significant part at Davos. While this is surprising to some, the outputs from the WEF’s global agenda council on the role of faith, which fellow Religious Freedom & Business Foundation Board member Chris Seiple and I had the honor of chairing a few years ago, reveal a side of Davos most media reports miss.
A lasting memory I have from Davos is the Shabbat dinner that starts just as WEF’s annual meeting closes. The tradition began during Shimon Peres’ time as Israeli president. Peres hosted the dinners every year with dignitaries and businesspeople, and the tradition has continued after his passing in 2016.
Argentinian real estate developer Eduardo Elsztain hosted the dinner I attended, during which he challenged the attendees to share how their faith interacted with their Davos experience. A testimonial service ensued, and what testimonies they were! The most memorable was an octogenarian who challenged people to celebrate their 80th birthday in a similar way as he celebrated his: he took a plane load of eye doctors to Ethiopian villages lacking eye care.
I sat at the Shabbat dinner table with Daniel Berkove, who took up the challenge from that evening with a project he’s been working on as a hobby for the past year-and-a-half: being the Executive Producer of The Blessing Israel, a music video that was launched last month with the purpose of raising awareness of and combatting rising antisemitism around the world.
The Jewish/Christian collaboration features top stars from Israel, the US, and Africa who sing, in Hebrew and English, a cover of “The Blessing,” a song that went viral last year among Christian communities around the world. The Israeli singers featured are among the most famous local performers today (Dudu Aharon, Gali Atari, Eden Meiri, Narkis and Avraham Tal). Also featured are Ricky Skaggs and Jacky Clark-Chisholm (from the Clark sisters) from the U.S., TY Bellow from Nigeria, Rahel Getu from Ethiopia, and Mynah Rams from South Africa.
Since its release, The Blessing Israel has received nearly one million views.
Next time you think of Davos, think of the blessings that can emerge when people gather together and authentically bring their faith to bear on problems facing our world.
Please be part of the solution to antisemitism, share the video …