An Iftar at Temple Emanu-El

From left to right : J.R. Rothstein (an Iftar guest), Daniel Pincus, Rabbi Allison Tick, Mohamed Ali, Khyume Khan, Mehmet Kilic, director, Peace Island Institute Director (Photo by Kinue Imai Weinstein for Voices of NY)

From left to right: J.R. Rothstein (an iftar guest), Daniel Pincus, Rabbi Allison Tick, Mohammed Ali, Khyume Khan, Mehmet Kilic, director, Peace Islands Institute (Photo by Kinue Imai Weinstein for Voices of NY)

On Wednesday, July 15, the day before the end of the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan, Temple Emanu-El, a reform Jewish congregation in Manhattan, hosted an iftar dinner at sunset.

Approximately 200 Muslims, Christians, Jews, and other religious leaders were invited to the dinner, which was organized and sponsored by the NYC Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee (NYCMJSC). The dinner was also supported by the venue host, Temple Emanu-El, the Peace Islands Institute (PII), and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU).

The dinner was the very first Ramadan celebration held at Temple Emanu-El.

Whirling Dervish performing at the Iftar dinner at Temple Emanu-El (Photo by Kinue Imai Weinstein for Voices of NY)

Whirling dervish performing at the iftar dinner at Temple Emanu-El (Photo by Kinue Imai Weinstein for Voices of NY)

Allison Tick, assistant rabbi at Temple Emanu-El, and Rabbi Marc Schneier, the founder and president of FFEU, greeted the guests, emphasizing the importance of loving your neighbor and living in peace. Their speeches were followed by remarks from several Muslim leaders, all of whom also emphasized mutual understanding and living in peace.

In addition, Mohammed Ali, a peace activist, and Dan Pincus, a Temple Emanu-El member, spoke about their interfaith activities in Yemen and the Middle East.

The guests were also treated to a performance by a whirling dervish, accompanied by a group of musicians. During the interview, Oner Soytekin, program coordinator at the PII, explained that the music was inspired by the work of the Sufi poet Rumi. Whirling dervishes originated as a branch of Sufism in 13th century Turkey and played an important role in the evolution of Ottoman culture.

Iftar buffet guests at Temple Emanu-El (Photo Kinue Imai Weinstein for Voices of NY)

Iftar buffet guests at Temple Emanu-El (Photo Kinue Imai Weinstein for Voices of NY)

“We were honored to host the iftar to support our friends in the American-Muslim community. Jews and Muslims are linked by shared values and traditions and we have a responsibility to foster connection and understanding,” said Rabbi Tick. Her congregation would be delighted to host an iftar dinner in the future, she added.

“This was our very first time organizing an iftar dinner at a Jewish temple. We were honored and delighted to work with wonderful people and to make it happen,” commented Soytekin. “We work with different people from different backgrounds, traditions, and religions,” he added.

Earlier during Ramadan, which started this year on June 18, PII hosted approximately 150 guests at an iftar dinner at Riverside Church and another 250 guests at an iftar dinner at the Union Theological Seminary. PII has been holding interfaith iftar dinners for the past six years.

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