A Unique Eid Gathering in Sacramento
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Glimpses of the Eid Banquet hosted by Senator Steinberg
The invitation from Senator Darrell Steinberg’s office said “Assalamu Alaikum. Eid Mubarak!” and added, “Let us celebrate Eid together”. It also included these words: “The Sacramento region is one of great diversity. The efforts exerted by the Muslim American community in the Greater Sacramento region to reach out to others are truly impressive. We not only break bread together, but also break barriers and build bridges when we come together at events such as Interfaith Iftar at SALAM, CAIR Capitol Ramadan Iftar, and Fast-for-a-Day Iftar in Davis. These events enable all of us to gain a greater understanding of the faith and culture of the Muslim American community. This year, Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah overlap, further encouraging us to break down the barriers that have existed between Muslims and Jews for centuries. In acknowledgement of your hard work and remarkable contributions to our community, I am proud to host my first Eid Banquet.”
Of Jewish heritage, Senator Steinberg from California’s 6th District is currently President pro Tempore of the California State Senate. Getting a polite request from him to have lunch at the Mehran Restaurant on Fair Oaks Blvd. on September 26th in Sacramento to build community bridges over some spicy Pakistani food was something that one just could not ignore. And over 40 local Muslims including some of the area’s top leadership took him up on the offer. Jews and Muslims building bridges in Sacramento, while sharing fried bhindi (okra), biryani and tandoori specialties; it doesn’t get more unique than that. But this is America and similar events are happening more frequently.
In his address to the gathering the Senator thanked everyone for joining him for Eid over lunch. He also introduced his daughter Jordana and thanked District Director Susan McKee and legislative aide Mufaddal Ezzy for their efforts. He explained that he has had a chance to serve the community for 15 years and has been President of the California State Senate for about 9 months. He spoke of the serious financial crisis that has hit California recently and of the painful decisions that had to be made. He said that he always felt good about coming back to his constituents and that it’s all about helping people, standing with them, and standing against discrimination. He added that Ramadan was really about community and then spoke of his own Jewish heritage and its holiday observances such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur following Ramadan and Eid. He said that he was happy to be with us today and that he looked forward to working with the area Muslims in the future.
A number of local Muslim leaders and other guests thanked the Senator for his efforts and expressed their personal views on sharing a future vision of peace amongst religions through mutual respect and understanding.