In Focus: Ray Daffner

Washington Jewish Week
June 3, 2009

Ray Daffner was taken aback by the prejudices that seemed so common in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

“My son was in high school then,” Daffner says. “The amount of prejudice I saw and that he talked about that was taking place among both adults and youth he was around was just shocking,” the Waterford, Va., resident recalls.

“It made me think about how Jews were portrayed at different points of our history around the world.”

And, it led him to action a few years later, after his congregation, Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation in Ashburn, received an anonymous donation to be used for two purposes: one, for the wandering shul to get a home of its own, and, two, for interfaith work.

As for the latter, Daffner was among a small group of people to come up with the idea of joining with other faith groups. “We ended up with 15 congregations, representing 15,000 families,” he says about Loudoun Interfaith BRIDGES (Building Relationships through Interfaith Dialogue, Goodwill, Education and Service), which joins together representatives from Sikh, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, Jewish, Baha’i, Roman Catholic, Quaker, Hindu and several Protestant congregations.

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