During the recent escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jews and Muslims in London sat down to break bread.
By Nabila Pathan
A UK-based synagogue hosted its first iftar with members of both the local Jewish and Muslim communities. As part of an ongoing nationwide initiative, known as the “Big iftar,” the breaking of the Ramadan fast took place in North Western Reform synagogue in London. With Ramadan being a time of reflection and peace, the Jewish-Muslim interfaith iftar at the synagogue, was a way for “Jewish and Muslim communities to come together in the UK to provide a light of hope for our co-religionists in the Middle East,” according to Mustafa Field, director of Faiths Forum London.
“Come into the synagogue with joy!” proclaimed Rabbi Maurice Michaels during the official introduction to the iftar. What followed was a consensus by the organizers towards a commitment of not letting troubles in the Middle East region negatively impact community cohesion in the UK between the two faith communities.
Laura Marks, senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, speaking to Al Arabiya News about the event explains: “it is these precise relationships which matter. We want our children to grow up knowing their neighbors and treating them as friends rather than with suspicion.” It was a night of mingling, feasting and coming together, based more on the commonality of the two Abrahamic faiths than on political differences. Following jovial greetings of “Ramadan Kareem” between the hosts and the guests, members of the two communities naturally mixed into conversation with each other. Experiences of fasting provided the platform for engagement; whether it was comparing Jewish and Muslim practices of fasting or sharing accounts of spiritual awakening.Throughout the evening there were regular reminders that “community cohesion does not happen by accident” reinforcing importance of such interfaith initiatives.