Ramadan Celebrated with Interfaith Iftars in Brooklyn

During the holy month of Ramadan, which ends with the Eid al Fitr holiday on July 7, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, at which point they eat an evening meal to break the fast. The Forward, Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Sheepshead Bites took a look at many of these gatherings, some of them interfaith, across Brooklyn.

Muslims and Jews attended an iftar on June 20 at the Kings Bay Y. (Photo via The Forward)

Muslims and Jews attended an iftar on June 20 at the Kings Bay Y. (Photo via The Forward)

Muslims and Jews came together for an iftar on June 20 at the Kings Bay Y, which organized the event with the Turkish Cultural Center, reports Josefin Dolsten for The Forward.

“When we first came in, the Jewish people were sitting in one section and the Muslims were a little bit in the other section, but now you’re going to find everybody sharing food with one another,” said 21-year-old Egyptian-American Nora Elbassiony, who helped organize the first iftar meal at the community center three years ago after she grew frustrated with negative feelings between Muslims and Jews.

Dolsten points out that while such interfaith iftars take place at the local level, there appears to be a disconnect at the national level.

“At the local level there are some really good ties. What’s missing is a national-level policy dialogue, ” said Robert Silverman, whose recent appointment by the American Jewish Committee to serve as U.S. director of Muslim-Jewish relations, a new position, signals a desire to change that.

Rev. Michael Perry of Our Lady of Refuge Roman Catholic Church (left), New York State Democratic District Leader Jacob Gold (middle) of the 44th Assembly District, and Javed from the NYPD’s 70th Precinct. (Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate via Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

Rev. Michael Perry of Our Lady of Refuge Roman Catholic Church (left), New York State Democratic District Leader Jacob Gold (middle) of the 44th Assembly District, and Javed from the NYPD’s 70th Precinct. (Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate via Brooklyn Daily Eagle)

The following night, the Interfaith Social Action/Social Justice Committee of East Midwood Jewish Center and Our Lady of Refuge Church sponsored an iftar hosted at the center, reports Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s Francesca Norsen Tate.

Representatives from the three Abrahamic faiths spoke about fasting in their respective religions with Rev. Michael Perry, of Our Lady of Refuge Roman Catholic Church, saying that Christianity is likely the most lenient, with only two days required during the year for fasting. He added that “Christians could benefit from fasting more frequently in their prayer life,” writes Tate.

Police officers and members of the mosque after the meal (Photo by Alex Ellefson via Sheepshead Bites)

Police officers and members of the mosque in Brighton Beach after the meal (Photo by Alex Ellefson via Sheepshead Bites)

On June 23 the Turkish American Eyüp Sultan Cultural Center hosted more than a dozen police officers, reports Sheepshead Bites’ Alex Ellefson, including Deputy Chief Charles Scholl and members of the Mid East and Turkic Society, which describes itself as “the first Middle Eastern and Turkic nations law enforcement society.”

(…) NYPD Sergeant Nara Ahmed said they wanted a group that brings together officers with Middle Eastern or Turkish backgrounds.

“The NYPD has over 30 fraternal organizations, but there wasn’t one that recognizes the Middle East or Turkish regions,” she said. “There are Muslim organizations, but this is transcends religion and recognizes our shared culture.”

Ellefson also stops by the Turkish bakery Safir, which started selling güllaç in honor of Ramadan.

The sweet, milky dessert, made with paper-thin pastry sheets, is prized during the holiday because it’s refreshing and easy on the stomach after a long day of fasting.

For more on the treat, which also includes crumbled pistachios, almonds and shredded coconut, go to Sheepshead Bites. And for more on the iftars, read the full stories at the respective publications linked above.

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