Building bridges while breaking bread: Norfolk temple holds interfaith Ramadan meal


Date posted: June 18, 2018

NORFOLK

Two years ago, living in his native Turkey, Abdulhamit Bilici never could have imagined his situation today.

Exiled. Living in a country he had previously only visited for work. Away from his friends and family and watching from afar as thousands of Turkish doctors, teachers, professors and more have been jailed.

It all started the day his newspaper, Zaman, became one of many seized by his country’s government.

Unbelievable, Bilici called it.

Out of work and afraid of what was coming, he left the country. Eventually, he purchased a one-way ticket to America and is now, like thousands before him, a Muslim immigrant.

“I am fortunate, though,” Bilici told a packed dining hall at Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk on Wednesday night. “Telling my story is the only way I can help raise awareness for my friends in Turkey.”

More than 100 people gathered for an iftar dinner – the evening meal in which Muslims break their fasts during Ramadan – at the temple. Partnered with the Rumi Forum, an interfaith and intercultural organization, the shared meal was meant for people of different faiths to learn more about each other.

Mustafa Akpinar, chief executive officer of the Rumi Forum, said they also host similar events to celebrate holidays like Christmas and Yom Kippur.

“It’s a beautiful way of getting to know our brothers and sisters by experiencing and learning from each other,” Akpinar said.

As the sun set and the scent of red lentil soup wafted through the hall, Jewish, Muslim and Christian worshippers prayed and dined, united.

The temple has held many iftar dinners over the years, said Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg of Ohef Sholom. Despite the difference in religious beliefs, attendants often find they’re more alike than they would believe.

“Peace has to start in relationships between people, and you can only build those relationships by getting to know each other,” said Mandelberg . “It’s too late to wait until a crisis occurs to come together.”

It’s about building bridges while breaking bread, she said.

Rabbi Israel Zoberman, a Kazakhstan native, the child of two Polish Holocaust survivors and founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Chaverim in Virginia Beach, has led congregations for more than 40 years.

Zoberman teaches at his own temple but at the Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church.

The idea that people of different faiths are willing to learn from each other gives Zoberman hope, he said, and interfaith gatherings are critical to attaining peace.

“What we share in common far outweighs our differences,” Zoberman said.

Bilici said like parts of Turkey, many communities across America are polarized. He said he hopes more people will take the time to learn about their neighbors.

“If someone encourages you to hate your neighbor because of who they are, do the opposite.”

 

Source: The Virginian Pilot , June 7, 2018


Related News

Afghans laud honorable Fethullah Gulen

Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul hosted a conference entitled “Fethullah Gulen’s Perspectives on Combating Extremism in the Muslim World,” jointly organized by the local Tolerance and Dialogue Center and Baran-i Omid Publishing. Leading Afghan officials called attention to Gulen’s approach and education for an efficient and permanent solution to extremism.

Lawyers for Gulen Call Flynn’s Comments ‘Troubling’

Gulen has never been charged with a crime in the U.S., and he has consistently denounced terrorism as well as the failed coup in Turkey. One of Gulen’s lawyers, Jason Weinstein, called Flynn’s comments about Gulen “troubling” but said the extradition process is a legal matter in the hands of the Department of Justice.

Turkish Cultural Center Maine honors Governor LePage

Turkish Cultural Center Maine honors Governor LePage at its first friendship dinner. Speakers point to business and education ties and potential [between Turkey and State of Maine] as the governor and two others receive awards. Several state legislators who attended the dinner have gone on one of the three trips the Turkish Cultural Center has organized for lawmakers to visit Turkey. There also are educational ties between Maine and Turkey.

Dialogue Institute of the Southwest presents Whirling Dervishes of Rumi

The Whirling Dervish Performance of Rumi is a highly cultural and spiritual celebration of existence, performed by members of a branch of the Sufi order, which was founded in the 13th century in the Turkish city of Konya. The Whirling Dervishes played a vitally important part in the evolution of Ottoman Empire high culture.

Rumi Forum Hosts Religious Extremism Debate

“We see a failed state structure, a failed community and these social fragmentations, sectarian lines would make people accept authoritarian hard line fundamentalist interpretations,” said Mustafa Gurbuz, a Rumi Forum speaker and sociologist.

U.S., Turkey at impasse over extraditing Muslim cleric living in Poconos

Turkey says the United States is legally bound by a treaty to immediately hand over Fethullah Gulen, the Poconos-based Muslim cleric it accuses of plotting to overthrow Turkey’s government.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Gülen’s latest book launch celebrated at İstanbul forum

Abrupt gov’t decision to revoke status of Kimse Yok Mu draws criticism

Netherlands investigating Turkish professor’s remark that killing Gülenists is permissible in Islam

Kaçmaz family deportation case: Lahore High Court seeks record of Civil Aviation Authority

GYV’s Istanbul Summit and Peace Projects presented in New York

‘Islam and I’

Was prime minister able to convince the EU?

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News