Woodland American Muslim Voice Sponsors “The Annual Celebration of Abraham Program”
By Omar Saeed
Left to right Khalid Saeed, Rabbi Greg Wolfe, Reverend Sarah Motely and Dina-El Nakhal
The Faith Communities of Davis and Woodland held their 5th “The Annual Celebration of Abraham Program” on Sunday, January 27, 2008 at the St. James Catholic Church Community Hall, Davis, California. The theme of the program this year was “Between Fear and Trust”.
American Muslim Voice (AMV) was one of the sponsors of the program. AMV national president Khalid Saeed is one of the founding members of the group and a member of the board of directors.
The Celebration of Abraham gathering was initiated to find agreement between the three major religions -Christianity, Islam and Judaism - which trace their roots back to Prophet Abraham. It provides common ground on which to build a foundation of respect and tolerance. This year the group’s annual program attracted over 400 people of all denominations throughout the area.
Marcia Berry, a Davis resident and member of the Celebration’s planning committee, admitted, “I come from a family where inter-faith issues certainly come up due to marriages. I support any effort to promote religious tolerance.”
The theme of this year’s event - “Living between Fear and Trust” - grew out of last year’s program, according to Ernie Biberstein, one of the organizers and a member of the Congregation Bet Haverim/Jewish Fellowship of Davis. “The most significant obstacle to this on all sides is fear of ‘otherness’ - threats, prejudices and antagonisms, imagined or real,” he said. “The hopeful expectation is that by interacting personally with members of these religions at the Celebration and discussing with them their pertinent concerns, participants will discover ways of reducing and dispelling such fears and thus advancing toward trust.”
Sue Greenwald, the mayor of Davis, participated in Sunday’s event. “It’s obvious with all the problems facing our planet, our climate and our resources, we can’t waste our energy fighting each other,” she said. “People of all faiths have to unite to solve our common problems despite the fact that there are so many differences.”
Each year, the Celebration of Abraham adopts a project designed to help those in need. The planning committee unanimously decided that part of the donations received at this year’s event will also go to help replace the copper crescent that was taken from the top of the minaret at the new Islamic Center of Davis in December. To raise the $5,000 needed to support the Islamic Society of Davis to replace its Crescent, a broad effort called “Campaign of 1,000” is seeking 1,000 or more donations of $5 or more.
Also this year, in conjunction with “Dear Sudan, Love Davis/Woodland,” the Celebration of Abraham was collecting money for solar cookers for families in Darfur refugee camps. For each $30 donation, a Darfuri family receives two solar cookers, training and two potholders in order to cook food donated by relief agencies without the need to make a dangerous trek for firewood.
American Muslim Voice national president Khalid Saeed, in his speech, thanked all participants for attending the program and said that we are ending this afternoon’s session, but this is not the end of the program. He asked the audiences to take the inspiration, energy, the motivational message of this program and inspire our friends and families when we go back to our communities.
As part of Muslim community’s outreach to fellow Americans Khalid Saeed invited all the participants to AMV’s upcoming peace picnic for which a date will be announced later and people will be informed through newspapers and church and synagogues news bulletins. American Muslim Voice members and other chapters have already been holding annual peace picnics and open houses in different areas.