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Amherst Town Board members Monday held a special interfaith ceremony to remember the nation and victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

After a 20-minute prayer, board members unanimously pushed through a series of resolutions condemning the airliner hijackings and crashes and ordering a review of local public safety measures in the event of future terrorist incidents.

"We must reach out to one another and share our grief. . . . All of us in Amherst have a role to play," Supervisor Susan J. Grelick told about 50 people attending the meeting.

Grelick also thanked the four religious leaders who took part and noted their different traditions, saying:

"We are really a great people . . . and our diversity is really the strength that drives us forward."

Prayers were offered by Western New York Sikh community spiritual leader Surjit Singh, Franciscan Sister Marcella Nachreiner, Lutheran Pastor Wendy Buckley and Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig of Temple B'nai Shalom.

Singh, who is also a board member of the National Conference for Community and Justice, led off the ceremony, praying in his native language for the firefighters and law enforcement officers and other victims of the attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and rural Pennsylvania.

He also thanked God "for the way you have brought this nation together."

Nachreiner, communications director for the Williamsville Franciscans, prayed for a nation that she described as "battered" and for those who died in the attacks. And for the rescue workers, she asked: "May God give them strength in their awful task."

Buckley, pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Williamsville, remembered all U.S. citizens, saying, "May all of us hold our citizenship as a sacred trust."

Friedfertig, president of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis, began his prayer by recalling the biblical story of the Tower of Babel. However, he said, the destruction of the World Trade Center towers was not done by God but was carried out by "men who wanted . . . one culture, one language and one outlook" in the world.

During the meeting, Council Member Daniel J. Ward received unanimous support for four motions condemning the terrorist attacks and urging town officials to review "all existing contingency public safety and security plans for the prevention of terrorist attacks within the Town of Amherst."

Also passing unanimously was a measure guaranteeing full pay and benefits for town employees who are called to active duty in the armed forces during the crisis.


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