STUART, Fla. — The crisis in the Middle East has many people leaning on their faith.
Local clergy, which included a rabbi, pastor, reverend and an imam, met to break bread with their congregants in Stuart.
When Israel was attacked, Rabbi Matthew Durbin of Temple Beit HaYam in Stuart said the first text he received was from Father Christian Anderson of nearby St. Mary's Episcopal Church.
"[The message] said, 'Are you OK?' My response, as I'm sure all Jews' response if you asked them today 'Are you OK?' No, we're not OK," Durbin said.
The clergy are good friends, once hosting a radio program together, then a podcast and now opening up their buildings for a "lunch and learn" series with their congregations.
Nearly 200 people packed into the temple Wednesday, as Shaikh Shafayat Mohamed from the Darul Uloom Institute in Broward County joined the reverend and rabbi to discuss the situation in the Middle East.
"I do not think it's a Jewish, Muslim thing, that's my personal opinion, because Jews and Muslims are supposed to be very close," Mohamed said.
Mohamed acknowledged having to walk a fine line, trying to do what God tells him to do.
"This is a horrific situation, innocent lives being lost," Mohamed said. "I have never supported terrorism."
The shaikh, and all of the clergy, were encouraged by the turnout, adding that Christianity, Islam and Judaism share commonalities around food and so much more.
"We are not retreating into our respective silos," Anderson said. "So, Christians aren't saying 'Boy, I'm glad I'm not in that mess.'"
As the lunch ended, Anderson listened as Barbara Fortgang said she'd come back for next week’s luncheon.
"This makes me cry," Fortgang said. "Why are we able to sit down with all different people?"
While the Middle East crisis wasn't solved over a luncheon, it did open new channels of dialogue here at home.