Jackie Congedo — In Conversation
Interfaith Iftar at the Islamic Center: A Reflection
The sound of bouncing basketballs echoes through the hallways as a group of kids there for an afternoon pick-up game rushes past several people on their way to an evening prayer service. The school down the hallway has let out for the day. Two older ladies are catching up in the lobby – talking about their weekend plans and their grandkids. A sense of community fills the whole space.
I love visiting the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati because, in so many ways, it reminds me of our own Mayerson JCC – both places for recreation, prayer, learning, and togetherness.
Every time I visit, I am reminded of the many similarities our communities share.
Several weeks ago, I was invited to the Islamic Center to share in an interfaith Iftar meal, which ended a day of fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. I was joined by several members of our JCRC board and their families, along with many others from other faith, civic, and ethnic communities. Rabbi Wise of Congregation Adath Israel offered a prayer before we ate, and these are his reflections about the opportunity.
As always, we so appreciate the warm invitation from our friends at the Islamic Center to share in our similarities and to learn more about their faith and traditions. – Jackie Congedo
On Sunday evening, June 4, Kathy and I were honored to be invited to and attend the annual Ramadan Iftar program and dinner at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester. From the minute we walked in until we left, we were embraced with such genuine warmth, as our Muslim sisters and brothers fulfilled their obligation to welcome guests whoever they may be. Over many years here, in Israel, in Africa, and in other settings, I have experienced how naturally and lovingly Muslims fulfill this commandment (for Jews it is known as hachnasat orchim).
Imam Musa and others spoke so eloquently, inspiringly, and sincerely about the need for all of us to embrace each other, respect each other, and be there for each other, not only in these very difficult and challenging times, but especially now. I was honored to share this blessing, and I did so through a teaching in the name of Adonai, Allah, and God, and in the name of and in honor of our ancestor Abraham, whom we all revere:
We are called to serve God by serving all of God’s creation; that includes all human beings and not just ourselves and our own. We all are commanded to be a blessing to others and not to be concerned with being blessed – making our lives a blessing for all of life. My blessing is that we all should be so blessed to make our lives be a blessing to others and our world.
As Kathy and I were walking to our car, we were filled with hope and a sense of deep relationship; we were filled with the awareness that indeed all human beings are related, all of us are part of the same Creation, and all of us through our God-given free will can choose to be a blessing, can choose to love, can choose to pursue justice and peace, and can choose to be here for each other, welcoming all into our hearts and lives. We walked to our car knowing this is what Abraham wants from us, and this is what Allah, God, and Adonai hopes for us.