A Shared Struggle: Muslim and Jewish fasters break it together

Musicians from the Turkish Cultural Center serenaded guests upon their arrival, and performed at various points during the Iftar. Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate
Musicians from the Turkish Cultural Center serenaded guests upon their arrival, and performed at various points during the Iftar. Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate


Date posted: July 20, 2013

Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor

Brooklyn’s Jewish and Muslim communities have used a common fasting day to build stronger bonds between them.

Last Tuesday, July 16, Jews observed Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Hebrew calendar which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples and is a strict fast day. Meanwhile, until Aug. 7, Muslims are observing the holy month of Ramadan, during which they believe the prophet Mohammed received revelations from God, which are recorded in the Qu’ran. Both fasts end at sundown, and the timing inspired Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, the Turkish Cultural Center and the Kings Bay YMHA to hold a joint break-the-fast meal. Muslims call this meal the Iftar, and hospitality is a central part of this tradition.

The large Reform temple in Park Slope had already enjoyed an ongoing friendship with the Kings Bay Y and is starting a new relationship with the Turkish Cultural Center. Helping bring them together was the Peace Islands Institute, a non-profit organization that is experienced in this very work.

“Basically, we form dialogue groups and understanding between religious groups,” Ibrahim Sayar told the Brooklyn Eagle during the Iftar. Mr. Sayar is the director of the Peace Island Institute’s Center for Interfaith Affairs. They have worked with Congregation Beth Elohim in recent years. “This kind of event is not new,” Sayar explains. “They had a similar program with the Jewish Theological Seminary, for example. We have different programs with different communities: different churches, different churches and different temples—and even Buddhist groups, not only Jewish people.” Working in seven U.S. states, including New York, Sayar knows from experience that “it really helps to bring people together, give them first-hand experience of the other. Because the information that we are receiving about the other culture is usually from second-hand or third-hand: through media or the books that we know. And the media can be sometimes deceiving.

Fasting is a shared practice, and is common to several religious traditions. “I think Ramadan is one of those occasions when we can share this kind of experience,” said Sayar. “Particularly today, since the Jewish community and Muslim community are fasting at the same time. And breaking fast at the same table means a lot.”

He added, “As people communicate, experience each other; they continue the relationship throughout the year.

Rabbi Marc Katz, Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim, points out that the Kings Bay Y and the Turkish Cultural Center both “have a wonderful and storied history. We’re so glad that within their relationship that they’ve been building, they’ve brought our community in as well. From our previous years of engagement with the Kings Bay Y, and our new engagement with the Turkish Cultural Center, we’re so happy to be building these bridges, and especially to be forming these relationships.”

Leonard Petlakh, executive director of the Kings Bay Y, said of Congregation Berth Elohim, “We couldn’t think of a better place to bring these two communities—the Jewish community and the Muslim Turkish community—together in this special place. So my brother Suleyman [Aydogan] brought up the idea of having the Iftar dinner at a synagogue—and then he had a follow-up idea—he’s absolutely responsible for the fact that we are here in this wonderful place of worship. It’s beyond a place of worship: it’s a cultural center, it’s a real spiritual center for the community of Park Slope.” Mr. Petlakh also saluted CBE’s Senior Rabbi Andy Bachman, who was in Israel at the time of the event.

“I have witnessed first-hand the great work that the Turkish Cultural Center does all over the world,” said Mr. Petlakh. We have traveled together to Turkey, and Israel and other places. I’ve been amazed at the dedication and commitment that the people at the TCC bring into their work.”

Zafer Akin, president of Peace Islands Institute, said, “The Turkish community and Jewish community—we have so much in common: Devotion to our families, our mosques, synagogues, and dedication to peace. The idea behind tonight’s event is to show that we both have our own values, our own culture, our own backgrounds, and yet we can still come together: not just in an atmosphere of friendship, but as a family.”

Also present were Suleyman Aydogan, Director of TCC Brooklyn; Cindy Greenberg, CBE’S Program Director, who organized the event and managed details including the room décor; State Senator Eric Adams, and State Supreme Court Justice Bruce Balter.

Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle , July 19, 2013


Related News

For Turkish exiles in New Hampshire: No way back

A Turkish family of four has settled in New Hampshire, fleeing a crackdown in their homeland that has led to the arrests of thousands of civil servants. They can’t go home but they can’t stay here forever; the tourist visas that brought them here will expire. So they wait, and they worry.

While Erdogan Demonizes a Peaceful Movement, International Community Applauds Them.

It is no secret that the corruption scandal on December 17, 2013 that encircled the Turkish government was one of the biggest threats to Erdogan’s rule since he took the office in 2003.

Turkic American Alliance’s iftar brought diplomats together in Washington DC

The Turkic American Alliance (TAA), which is an umbrella organization with more than 200 member organizations, and its component organization Rumi Forum came together to host a Ramadan Iftar for many dignitaries in the Washington, D.C. area on Tuesday, July 30th. Several ambassadors, congressmen, diplomats and leaders of the Turkic community and organizations attended the dinner.

Peacebuilders Conference

Peacebuilders Conference aims to bring together scholars and practitioners who would provide insights that focus on people-to-people relationships, rather than political processes, that further non-violent social change in societies.

Texas Senate passes resolution commending Fethullah Gülen

ALİ H. ASLAN, WASHINGTON The senate of the US state of Texas on Tuesday passed a resolution commending respected Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen for his contributions to the promotion of global peace and understanding. Senate Resolution No. 85, which was approved during Tuesday’s session chaired by Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, said, “The Senate of […]

Fethullah Gülen’s Statement of Condolences and Condemnation for Manhattan Terrorist Attack

Fethullah Gülen: I am deeply shocked and saddened by the atrocious terrorist attack in Manhattan which resulted in the deaths of eight innocent civilians and left 11 others injured. I strongly condemn this despicable and senseless act of violence.

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

Turkish Olympiad raises hopes for world peace

TUSKON warns against probing policemen under ‘shadow of politics’

Abant Platform to discuss framework of new constitution

What would Carl Schmitt say about Turkish politics today?

Hagi serves baklava to ‘Colors of the World’ in Romania

Kosovo’s Parliament supports commission to probe deportation of six Turks

Turkish press council condemns false reports on Gülen movement

Copyright 2024 Hizmet News