Synagogue hosts a night of Muslim-Jewish harmony


Date posted: October 18, 2012

Robert Wiener, NJJN Staff Writer

For years, Phil Kruger of Montville has been interested in interfaith dialogue. He’s led fellow members of Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell in comparative studies of the Koran, the Torah, and the Christian Bible, and led a group of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in regular text study. Now he is taking his interest in a musical direction — as the organizer of an Oct. 20 concert of Jewish and Muslim musicians.

“Many Voices — One God” will include Amir Vahab and Ensemble, who perform Iranian and Sufi music, and the klezmer musician and historian Yale Strom. He’ll be joined by accordionist Peter Stan, who performs a style of klezmer music that has its roots in Turkey.

Serving as a resource for the event at Agudath Israel is the Peace Islands Institute. A Newark-based organization formerly known as the Interfaith Dialogue Center, it is affiliated with the Gulen movement, a Turkish-based Islamic network active in interfaith relations.

Kruger believes Jewish community members and local Turkish Muslims have much to share with one another.

“Our relationship has been strong,” Kruger said. “There is no reason why we can’t do things together. There are plenty of things we have in common. The similarity of religious services. The modesty issue in regard to women. Halal and kashrut are not dramatically different. Once you get to see these things, the politics become somewhat less important.”

Kruger said he joined members of the Peace Islands Institute on a visit to Turkey about six years ago and has been a guest at members’ homes for Muslim holiday dinners.

“At a number of events,” he said, “they have had Middle Eastern music, which I have enjoyed, and I thought that it would be a nice thing to bring to my synagogue.”

His outreach efforts with a local Muslim community dovetail with what he calls his synagogue’s “incredible relationship” with the other local houses of worship.

In January, the synagogue and Notre Dame Catholic Church in North Caldwell organized an interfaith pilgrimage to Israel in observance of Agudath Israel’s 90th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the Roman Catholic parish.

A year ago, Kruger attended a lecture by Strom at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown. “He said that klezmer has Middle Eastern roots,” Kruger recalled. “That comment raised my eyebrows, and I sent him a letter saying, ‘I am trying to put together a Middle East concert and he was immediately interested in an interfaith concert.”

Kruger began his interfaith efforts with the Turkish group before relations between Turkey and Israel soured following the Gaza flotilla crisis in May 2010.

“But even though the politics between Turkey and Israel have gone south…, I had already developed close relationships and considered a lot of these people to be my friends,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘They are not Turkey. They are not representatives of the Turkish government, nor am I a representative of the Israeli government. There is no reason why these relationships should not continue.'”

Meanwhile, said Kruger, he hasn’t received any negative comments from fellow congregants since the concert was announced.

“I don’t know of too many people who hear any music and find themselves in a fighting mood,” he said. “It is a calming force, a unification force, and it is entertaining.”

Source: New Jersey Jewish News , October 17, 2012


Related News

Prof. Scott Alexander: Hizmet is a social movement for peace

“What I have personally observed is that Hizmet is a movement that embraces contrasts and in which everyone can find a place for themselves. It’s a globally transformational movement. It is, on the other hand, able to combine tradition and modernity and bring them around the common values. Although I might not be necessarily exercising your values, I consider myself a part of this movement. The principles that lead the movement are what lead my life as well.” Alexander remarked.

Turkish Cultural Night in Philippines

Considering the significance of communication in the foundation of friendship, a Turkish community stage a cultural night to create a platform in reaching out as many Filipinos through undertaking a one-night event. Basically, their purpose was to create a venue where they could gather their Filipino friends to develop camaraderie as well as to improve the ties between the Turkish and the Filipino community in the country.

Turkish Cultural Center co-hosts Iftar at Westchester Reform Temple

Interfaith Gathering Breaks the Fast of Ramadan at Westchester Reform Temple, which was co-hosted by the Turkish Cultural Center. Mehmet Ozhabes, president of the Turkish Cultural Council welcomed everyone saying it is tradition to raise the tent and open the flap wide to receive guests. “The tent,” Ozhabes said, “is a place of peace and friendship.” Religious leaders from White Plains and Mayor Tom Roach were present. Roach spoke briefly about the importance of celebrating the diversity in communities.

This is beyond a witch-hunt – Turkey now blames Gülen movement for 9/11 attacks

In yet another example of scapegoating the Gülen movement for anything bad in Turkey or in anywhere else in the world, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief advisor Yiğit Bulut hinted at connections between FETÖ and the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US.

Understanding of Muslims in US is limited, says scholar

“Part of what we are doing involves interfaith work,” says Turk, and he brings up the role of the Pacifica Institute in California that does similar work in accordance with the teachings of Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. “The same values are taught by Gülen,” Turk says, and adds that students from the Gülen-inspired Hizmet movement attend Bayan Claremont as well. “We are educating the next generation of Islamic scholars and community leaders,” Turk says.

A Year After Hurricane Sandy: Climate Change & Disaster Management

The Peace Islands Institute (PII) held a discussion panel on October 28, titled “A Year After Hurricane Sandy: Climate Change and Disaster Management” in order to raise awareness on climate change and disaster management, to highlight disaster management planning, to explore effective ways to respond to natural disasters during and after emergency and to handle the emergency situations.

Latest News

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

Bulgaria, the state sentenced to compensate Turkish journalist

64-year-old bedridden woman in 17th month of her imprisonment on “terror” charges

An ‘impossible’ choice: Leave 5-year-old son in foster care or risk being tortured

‘Escape from Turkey’ recounts stories of post-coup crackdown victims fleeing Turkey

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

In Case You Missed It

Turkey’s Opposition Fails a Critical Test: To Challenge Erdogan

Today’s Zaman praised for quality coverage on 6th anniversary

Ex-CIA Director: Mike Flynn and Turkish Officials Discussed Removal of Gulen from U.S. without Going through Legal Process

Yeni Asya editor: Erdoğan kept strategy to finish off Gülen movement secret

Festival atmosphere in Kimse Yok Mu town

Fethullah Gülen and the role of nonviolence in a time of terror

Kimse Yok Mu continues relief efforts in Bosnia

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News