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Rita Semel

Offering an Overdue Welcome to the Atheist Community

A week after 9/11, on a Monday afternoon, 400 clergy in vestments assembled in Civic Center, San Francisco, a rainbow of color representing an unprecedented diversity. They processed into Bill Graham Civic Auditorium where 5,000 had gathered to mourn the terrible tragedy the nation had suffered. After a long, thoroughly interspiritual service, people streamed out. In a far corner of the green a group of people stood alone, protestors, waving posters.

Rita Semel’s 90th Birthday

San Francisco’s new mayor came to the 7:00 am interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast this year. So did the city police chief, the fire chief, half the city’s supervisors, San Francisco’s own Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and 400 clergy and lay leaders. For a prayer breakfast in San Francisco?!

It was also the 90th year birthday party for the woman who made such an event possible. The theme for the day tells the story – “Healing the World: Honoring the Work of Rita Semel.”