Beth Shalom co-hosted an Iftar Dinner with the Pearl of the Islands Foundation (PIF). This was a first for Beth Shalom and possibly a first in New Zealand where a Synagogue hosted Muslims for the daily breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
The hall was abuzz with conversation as 20 members from PIF and just over 40 people from Beth Shalom attended. Members of the NZ Police joined us inside while members of the police force protected us on the outside. The evening started with the call to prayer by Imam Murat Safa.
Dinner initiated with delicious hors d’oeuvres put together by Wendy Wilton. Paul Wilton led the Havdalah to close Shabbat and celebrate the new week for the Jewish congregation.
Naomi Johnson was the MC for the evening and welcomed everyone. She talked about the importance of focusing on what we have in common and not focusing on the differences in our faiths. Then we enjoyed the delicious soup made by Debbie Miller.
Quran was recited by Imam Safa followed by an assortment of foods and salads for our mains.
After dinner, Yasir Demirbas spoke about the custom of hosting such Iftar dinners. It is through interacting that we break down barriers and develop strong relationships. Baklava was served for dessert. We were fortunate to enjoy beautiful music by both Tamar Lazarus Jason Lankino Bandara throughout the evening.
As the evening drew to a close, we heard floor reflections from Nazife Basar, Sue Berman, Nan Jensen, Ivica Gregurec and Aaron Pascoe. Their thoughts and feelings mirrored what we were all feeling in our hearts.
Debbie Swiatek, President of Beth Shalom, gave the vote of thanks and presented our organisation with a Kevin Kilsby pottery wall decoration. In return, we presented a Turkish ceramic plate to Debbie.
New friends were made, email addresses and phone numbers were swapped and everybody left feeling happy and satisfied thanks to the wonderful food and the stimulating conversations.
We thank Naomi Johnson for writing this up.