As a three year tradition, the Muslim members of the CNY RISE Center and the Jewish members of the Beth Sholom Chevra Shas started the day shop kosher and halal items for the dinner on Tuesday, May 7. Then they came together at the kosher kitchen of the synagogue to prepare a rich meal including fish, vegetables, couscous, and a traditional Turkish halva so both Jewish and Muslim guests can enjoy the Ramadan Dinner together.
Jonathan Levine, Mathematics Professor from Colgate University, mentioned that as the Beth Sholom community, they always learn more about the Islamic traditions and culture while preparing a special Ramadan Dinner. Surprise to most of the participants of the event, they always discover new practices and terminology that are common to both faith traditions. The members of the CNY RISE Center - Women Club were asking about the details of the kosher cooking including the kosher signs to pay attention on the product packages or the designated pots for the dairy items.
There were total of 50 guests from both communities and Imam Gultekin Bibar started evening program with a recitation on Holy Quran on the topic of fasting and Ramadan. The event continued with a presentation on "United Against Violence" by Tim Saka, board president of CNY RISE Center. Mr. Saka highlighted the recent attacks in synagogues, mosques, or churches and he called everyone to pray for one another and stand against violence. Mr. Saka has mentioned about the Medina agreement signed between Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Jewish tribes of Medina. It was an example of early Muslims and Jews forming a community together, respecting each other’s faith traditions and living peacefully together. It was sad but necessary that there was a police officer from Dewitt Police Department was securing the safety of the event participants.
Rabbi Pepperstone from Beth Sholom was not present at the event due a rabbinic gathering in Canada. However, he wrote a beautiful letter to recognize this meaningful gathering and Jonathan Levine read the letter for all guests. Rabbi Pepperstone mentioned that he was together with more than 100 rabbis in the North America and none of them were hosting a similar Ramadan Dinner at their synagogues.
Then it was the time for the Maghrib prayer for Jewish tradition and all the Muslim guests joined in their prayers while reading selected passages from the Holy Book. Following the Jewish prayer, Muslim guests performed their Maghrib prayer which ended with the chanting the names of Allah right after the sunset.
Jewish hosts let the Muslim guests to receive their dinner first because they were fasting starting with the sunrise. Since the Jews also fast during the Yom Kippur they were able to relate to the fasting of the Muslims. While enjoying the rich menu of the dinner, everyone was asking questions about each other's faith tradition and they all agreed that it was one of the most special night of the year for them.
Finally, Robert Tornberg from Beth Sholom reminded everyone that there will be a day long dialog event on June 9 at the synagogue. There will 60 members from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faith traditions and there will be workshops throughout the day to learn from one another. The Ramadan Dinner concluded with the promise together at the next event.