Ramadan fast ends in shul

By Charlotte Fisher, September 19, 2008

Muslims were invited to the New London Synagogue in St John's Wood on Tuesday for an Iftar meal to break the daily fast during Ramadan.

Alif-Aleph, promoting interfaith dialogue, has organised an annual Iftar event since 2003, celebrating similarities in the religions, traditions and food of Jews and Muslims.

"It's a great opportunity to meet and talk to Muslims," said New London member Vera Morris as guests tucked into a buffet of salmon bagels, cakes and dates.

Around 40 people were at the celebration, a number of them from the Turnpike Lane Mosque. The group included student Mash-Fiqul Alam, who has a keen interest in Jewish history and interfaith activities. "A lot of people are surprised to hear that I am a supporter of Israel," he said.

As guests gathered around a sefer Torah, Lester Kershenbaum explained that the Arabic roots of Sephardi Jews had resulted in similar prayer melodies. Participants from both communities emphasised the importance of providing platforms for them to relate to one another.

In his concluding remarks, Alif-Aleph founder Dr Richard Stone declared: "We are both ethnic minorities, and together we can be stronger."

Last updated: 1:59pm, September 22 2008



Thu, 09/18/2008 - 20:38

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I have nothing against Muslims. Some of best friends -- well not exactly, but you get the idea. The technical problem with this fast breaking is that it is difficult for them to reciprocate. What if a mosque invites Jews to break their Yom Kippur fast in the mosque? How do you explain the finer points of kashrus such as bishul akum? At least there's no problem of stam yener [ unsupervised wine]!


Thu, 09/18/2008 - 21:17

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I had the honour of visiting the New North London Synagogue, where I had the opportunity to speak to many different people from the Jewish community. It was certainly a pleasure. It was also a pleasure to meet the JC’s young intern journalist.

Mr Richard Stone delivered a passionate speech about the need to develop principles and policies for reconciliation and reconstruction of relations between Muslims and Jews away from the conflict in the Middle East. Whilst I recognise that there is a significant religious dimension to the conflict in the Middle East, it should not impact upon the good relations shared by Jews and Muslims whom are both minorities in Britain. Both communities have a lot to learn from each other, and therefore I wish to contribute to this relationship in my capacity as a Muslim. I cannot speak for anyone else.

I admire what Israeli Jews & Jewish people have achieved in all fields, whether in the academic, political, business, arts, or other walks of life where they have made an immeasurable contribution. This should be recognised and celebrated.

Furthermore, I am glad that there are supporters of Israel in all of Britain’s major political parties, particularly within the Conservative party- maybe I say that because I am a member. As the Conservative leader was reported to have said: “An understanding of, and sympathy towards, Israel's position should be natural for most democrats. But there are special reasons why the Conservative Party is a logical home for friends of Israel.”

I accept the Government’s analysis that there is certainly a need for a long-term resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but this depends entirely upon mutual recognition and acceptance of Israel & their right to exist as a sovereign state in the Middle East. I think Israel has a lot to contribute to this region.