Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Bit of Sunshine


Last week my synagogue participated in a weekend of activities with a local mosque. It was heartwarming to see the large turnout from both communities. People, on both sides, seem genuinely hungry for some kind of outreach.

Though this first activity was somewhat formal and everyone was on their "best behaviour", I believe this is an important first step in breaking down stereotypes and getting people in both communities to better understand each other. And while that may not bring peace on earth, its probably a necessary pre-requisite.

The event was covered in a local Toronto Jewish paper:

On the weekend of November 13 to 15, congregations across North America and Europe took part in The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s Weekend of Twinning. This project, taking place for the second year in a row, encourages members of synagogues and mosques to come together for a joint program where they are each introduced to each other’s faiths.

Among those congregations who took part in the weekend in Toronto, was reconstructionist Darchei Noam Congregation, who was twinned with the Islamic Foundation of Toronto located in Scarborough. The program started on Friday evening, when about 100 members of the Islamic Foundation attended a Kabbalat Shabbat service at Darchei Noam. About 100 members of Darchei Noam participated in the service as well. The group from the mosque received a tour of the building and an explanation of the important elements of the synagogue. Following the service, all participants enjoyed a vegetarian dinner. As synagogue president Lisa Charendoff explains, the tables were balanced so that there were representatives from the synagogue and the mosque at each table around the room.

The second part of the program took place on Sunday morning. Once again about 200 members from both congregations participated. Darchei Noam members were given a tour of the mosque and observed their prayers. This was followed by speeches and discussions and the program concluded with lunch.

Read the full story here.

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