A Memorable Iftar
By Saboohi Ahmed
One by one they stood up when their names were called, ten Muslims and 10 Jews who had undertaken a rigorous one-year Fellowship with the NewGround organization. The names that were called out reflected their varying heritage: Naila Barlas, Charles Carnow, Lana El-Farra, Avi Fine, etc.
They came from all over: Muslim Americans from Pakistan, the Middle East, and other parts of the world, and Jewish Americans with their own cultural heritage from various parts of the globe.
They congregated in the sanctuary of the beautiful synagogue on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles bringing together followers of two disparate and yet similar faiths to celebrate the graduation of the Fellows and to break bread together in a traditional Muslim breaking of the fast, the Iftar.
The organization responsible for hosting this amazing gathering is NewGround, a Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change. Led by a diverse Board, NewGround was founded ten years ago by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) as its outreach to Jewish Americans. The success of the venture was such that a separate organization was formed to carry out the mission envisioned by its Founders.
The evening was magical in its organization and content. The guests were welcomed by two great women of the Muslim and Jewish communities in Los Angeles: Rabbi Susan Goldberg, Chief Rabbi of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Koreatown, and Edina Lekovic, Director of Policy & Programming at the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Both women are remarkable in their own right.
Rabbi Susan has brought a multicultural bent to the Temple and Edina of course is a nationally known spokeswoman for Muslims in America.
Their welcome was followed by the dynamic Aziza Hasan, NewGround Executive Director who exhorted the audience to make a change and to stand up against injustice whenever and wherever it is seen.
The adhaan was called in all its beauty by the Imam, and then the audience was encouraged to pray either their Muslim prayers or Jewish prayers before breaking their fast. The iftar and dinner was served in the lovely gardens of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple with both halal and kosher meals served to the attendees.
Many dignitaries were present including representatives from Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti’s office as well as Sue Obeidi of MPAC and Rabbi Laura Owens of the B’nai Horin Temple.
For more information on NewGround please visit www.MJNewGround.org .