Blog by rabbi Nagen

The Best Food in Ramadan

“Both read the Bible day and night, but thou read black where I read white.” These words of William Blake are apropos to the observance of Ramadan, a holiday which inspires both acts of violence as well as conciliation and generosity. Although the press often focuses on the isolated incidents of the former which are the exceptions, I will focus on the latter which are the rule.

In the context of Ramadan, the Koran stresses the connection between the human and the divine stating, “One who is unable to fast can instead give charity” (Sura 2, Verse 184).The holiday’s traditional greeting “Ramdan Kareem” literally means Ramadan Generosity.

The meal at the end of each day’s fast, the Iftar, provides an excellent opportunity for an Islamic-Jewish encounter. I once attended an Iftar in which elders from Hebron hosted Jewish residents of the region. The topic of the evening was Ramadan customs that are unique to Hebron. The Arabic name for Hebron “Al Khalil” means Friend, referring to Abraham, friend of God. Central to Ramadan in Hebron is the meal of Abraham – thousands of plates are made for the poor in ancient brass pots. We also learned that it is customary for the women of Hebron to briefly leave the kitchen while the food cooks to allow the matriarch Sarah to enter and stir the dishes. We were told this is why Hebron has the best food during Ramadan. Granting this role to Sarah shows an ability to overcome tensions in the family, as Sarah the biblical mother of Isaac had a stormy relationship with Hagar the mother of Ishmael.

A year ago, I attended a most memorable Iftar hosted by the Abrahamic Reunion on a date on which Jews also fast, the 17th of the lunar month of Tamuz.  Muslims end their fast at sundown whereas Jews wait until the stars are visible about 20 minutes later. Upon realizing this discrepancy, Sheik Abed Salem Manasra of Nazareth announced in the name of the Muslim participants, “We will all wait for the Jews to finish their fast before eating, so that we may all eat together.” This was a very powerful gesture of respect and understanding.

Later that week I was able to return the gesture. A Jewish woman Rebecca Abramson arranged an Iftar in Jerusalem at the house of a leading Rabbi of Israel’s ultra-orthodox community, Rabbi Yoel Schwartz. The guest of honor was a close friend of mine, a prominent Sheik from Ramallah. I was about to begin the afternoon prayer which must be said before sundown when the Sheik called me. He had arrived and was waiting on the corner for me to pick him up and take him to the meal. I made a quick calculation: if I pray now, I won’t bring him on time to the beginning of the Iftar. Every minute of my prayer elongates his fast. Using a Talmudic dispensation that one can pray even while riding a donkey if by stopping he won’t be able to concentrate out of concern about the delay, I recited the prayers while driving to pick him up. At the meeting, Rabbi Schwartz asked the participants to disregard their separate identity labels and to meet as brothers and sisters in loving and serving God. The discourse was so moving that Rachel Shofar, a translator who has devoted her life to Jewish-Muslim reconciliation, broke out in tears, “we have come to this, we have come to this”.

 

The Tears of Abraham

After the Iftar  in Jersualem I drove Rachel back to Hebron, and we began speaking about a mutual friend in Hebron. She then told me a story that moved me especially deeply.

Our shared friend is a sort of a Godfather in his hamula (clan). One day, he asked me to write a letter on his behalf to Yariv Ben Ezra, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander responsible for security in the Jewish part of Hebron. That same day my son, Hillel, was sworn into the IDF in a ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  Earlier we were told that his battalion, Tzabar, of the Givati infantry brigade, would be serving in Hebron.

I wrote to Yariv telling him that my son would soon be serving under him, and that each Shabbat when he comes home from the army that I bless him to return in peace and return with the peace. “You are in charge of the peace in Hebron and responsible to insure the security of all. Know that we have partners who to seeks to live in peace.” I then listed different acquaintances  for him in Hebron one by one.  I didn’t think my Arab friend could read Hebrew, but I sent him a copy of the letter anyway. I was moved when he called to tell me that he and the other sheikhs pray for Hillel and for all to return from Hebron in peace.

On the drive back, Rachel told me that she happened to be with our Arab friend when he received the letter. “He told me that he wanted to understand each word so he asked me to translate. The way I cried tonight is the way he cried when I read the letter.”

 


A.N.N. TV


Four Faiths Break Bread Together For Peace In The Holy Land

Abrahamic Reunion’s 14th Annual Multifaith Ramadan Peace Dinner Attracts Over 265 To Druze Village

DALIAT EL CARMEL, ISRAEL
June 7th, 2018
By Anna Less Executive Director
Edited with contributions by Chris Miller

LAST NIGHT, the Abrahamic Reunion held its annual multifaith Iftar celebration in the Druze Village of Daliat El Carmel, the largest and southernmost Druze town in Israel.

The Druze community formally received everyone as they arrived – creating a line of greeters welcoming participants into the decorated hall full of delicious food – lamb, fish, chicken, salads, and sweets.

Even though 175 people had been invited, over 265 people ended up coming, filling every chair and table to capacity in the large community center.

All four major faiths in Israel participated in nearly equal numbers.

According to Sheikh Ghassan Manasra, the International director of the Abrahamic Reunion:

This year we succeeded in making a complete Iftar – and they wrote about it on social media – because all four faiths were there with us.  Many people have multi faith Iftars but no one else succeeded in having all four faiths. There were people from all levels of society: we had intellectuals, writers, poets, scientists, politicians, journalists, religious leaders…many, many kinds of people arrived this time.

From every place they came – it was so nice for us to have all of them, and so beautiful…if you look at the first line of people sitting there were Druze Sheikhs, Muslim Sheikhs, Jewish Rabbis, Christian Fathers and Deacons, Alhamdulillah (All praise and thanks to God).

Prior to eating, a number of speakers spoke in Hebrew and in Arabic about the brotherhood of humanity in this region. They spoke about harmony, connection, and how to reduce radicalism and interreligious tensions.

Some of the eminent speakers included:

  • Sheikh Muwaffak Tarīf – The Head of the Druze Community in Israel
  • Rafik Halabi – The Head of the Municipality of Daliat El Carmel
  • Ron Shapiro – Haifa District Court Judge
  • Imam Samir Assi – the Imam of the Al-Jazaar Mosque in Akko
  • Rabbi Dahlia Shaham – of the Ohel Avraham Congregation and Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa
  • Siham Halibi – who together with Sheikh Abed Manasra organized this event on behalf of the Abrahamic Reunion
  • Ghassan Manasra – the International Director of the Abrahamic Reunion
  • Sheikh Helmi Hamad – of the Qadiri Sufi Order provided the Adhan for the Maghrib Prayer prior to the Iftar

During the meal itself one could see at each table Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians eating, sharing, laughing and discussing together.

Especially because of these troubled times in the Holy Land, people took great comfort and reassurance in coming together and affirming their commitment to mutual understanding and a peaceful co-existence.

The Abrahamic Reunion extends a special thank you to Siham Halibi, Sheikh Abed Manasra, and the Druze community for organizing and hosting this event.

Above: Sheikh Ghassan addresses the assembly    

Ramadan Message from Sheikh Ghassan Manasra

“What is the meaning of Ramadan this year for the Abrahamic Reunion? It is the harmony and connection of the human being. Ramadan – is the name of the month, it’s not the act of the fast – because we all fast. The Druze fast in Ramadan with us, but the Christians they also fast, and the Jews, they also fast – but they all came to celebrate a different kind of fasting with us in Daliat El Carmel. The deep meaning of the fast, this year, it was not only to stop to eat, it was also to stop to hate, to stop to fight, to stop to shout, to stop to kill, to stop to create bad things, and this year it was the fasting from every bad thing. This is the event of the Abrahamic Reunion – the harmony between all the people, love between all people.

When I looked to speak there, and I looked at the people, I saw a very beautiful garden full of lots of colors, and full of a beautiful fragrance. And I thought to myself: If you want to see all the colors and smell all the fragrance, you need to bring all the people together – It is our responsibility to do this work as the Abrahamic Reunion.

I’m speaking with you, but I’m not quiet right now, because tomorrow we have another Iftar – and we are very much in preparation for it now. Insh’allah (God willing) we will have an amazing and very great event with people from all levels of society tomorrow in the West Bank.”

Stay tuned for news about the Abrahamic Reunions’s next Multi-faith Iftar in the Holy Land, which will be hosted in Jericho on Friday June 8th, more photos, and videos from the 2018 Iftar Peace Dinners in the Holy Land. 

It’s not to late to donate in support of the AR’s Iftar Peace dinners!

Both of these events have a combined budget of about $18,000. This includes renting large busses, food for 450, getting adequate banquet spaces, paying our peace-building project managers, flying Sheikh Ghassan and Anna to the Holy Land, photography, and many other expenses that make the event successful.

A $100 donation will cover 3 people, $1000 will cover 33, and $10,000 will cover either dinner, start to finish, from planning to reporting. All this money will be spent on these programs in the Holy Land. Please give.

With Deep Thanks,

Please consider supporting the Abrahamic Reunion and all the bridge-making, peace-building, and grassroots multi-faith networking that it creates with a recurring monthly donation.

How To Donate

  • Online in America: Click Here
  • Germany / EU: Click Here
  • US Checks can be made to “The Abrahamic Reunion” and mailed to 2372 Arden Drive, Sarasota, FL 34232
  • UK / England:  Bank Transfer to Lloyds Bank A/c No: 47911460, Sort Code 30-98-97, Name: Abrahamic Reunion (England). Checks made out to Abrahamic Reunion can be posted to 3 Drummond Drive, Stanmore, Middx., HA7 3PF

Thank you for your years of support
 Please Donate Now!

 

To read more about the Abrahamic Reunion see these links below


Multifaith Iftar Dinner in Israel.

Last night the Abrahamic Reunion had its annual multifaith Iftar dinner in Israel.

This year the Iftar was hosted in Daliat El Carmel, the largest and southernmost Druze town in Israel.

We invited 175 people, but approximately 265 people came, filling every chair and table to capacity.

All four major faiths in Israel participated in nearly equal numbers.

Prior to eating a number of speakers spoke in Hebrew and in Arabic about the brotherhood of humanity in this region.

Some of the eminent speakers included:

The head of the Druze community for the entire Middle East

The Mayor of Daliat El Carmel

The Head Judge of the Jewish Courts in Haifa

Rabbi … of Haifa

Ghassan ..

Other eminent guests included a Chisti Sufi Sheikh from India

Unfortunately some of our other speakers that were scheduled to speak were unable to present due to the time for the Adhan

Since I only speak English, and the entire program was in Hebrew and Arabic, I am still getting all of my facts straight, (which I can send to you once others wake up and can explain it all to me,) but in general it was a great success.

 


Blog about the Iftar in Israel

Last night the Abrahamic Reunion had its annual multifaith Iftar dinner in Israel.

This year the Iftar was hosted in Daliat El Carmel, the largest and southernmost Druze town in Israel.

We invited 175 people, but approximately 265 people came, filling every chair and table to capacity.

All four major faiths in Israel participated in nearly equal numbers.

Prior to eating a number of speakers spoke in Hebrew and in Arabic about the brotherhood of humanity in this region.

Some of the eminent speakers included:

Sheikh Muwaffak Tarīf – The head of the Druze community in Israel

Rafik Halabi – The Head of the Municipality of Daliat El Carmel

Ron Shapiro – Haifa District Court Judge

Imam Samir Assi – the Imam of the Al-Jazaar Mosque in Akko

Rabbi Dahlia Shaham – the Ohel Avraham congregation and Leo Baeck education center in Haifa

Siham Halibi – who together with Sheikh Abed Manasra organized this event on behalf of the Abrahamic Reunion

Ghassan Manasra – the International Director of the Abrahamic Reunion

Sheikh Helmi Hamad – of the Qadiri Order provided the Adhaan for the Magrib Prayer

During the meal itself one could see at each table Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians eating, sharing, laughing and discussing together.

During these troubled times in Israel, people took great comfort and reassurance in coming together and affirming their commitment to mutual understanding, and a peaceful co-existence.

The Abrahamic Reunion extends a special thank you to Siham Halibi, Sheikh Abed Manasra and the Druze community for organizing and hosting this event.


Ramadan Iftar Peace Dinner

There is a peace that passeth understanding and abides in the heart of the one who knows “I Am”

The Abrahamic Reunion’s 14th Annual Multi-Faith Ramadan Iftar Peace Dinner

Dear Friends of the Abrahamic Reunion,

We are still receiving recognition and accolades for the events of the Week of Healing the Heart of the Holy Land.

It was great to finally get top-tier involvement from Israeli Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze religious leaders.  The work we did with the Young Peacemakers and in our very first Families Forum will continue on a regular basis supported by quarterly visits to the Holy Land by Sheikh Ghassan and Anna.

Just to reiterate the scope of the work that we are doing, we spent the morning with a bereaved Bedouin woman, the afternoon in an Israeli Settlement Yeshiva that had been attacked, and the next morning in the oldest Palestinian Refugee Camp, all as part of Healing the Heart of the Holy Land.

During this time of violence with many deaths in Gaza and rockets landing in Israel the need for our work is so very critical. We have proven that a concerted effort on a grassroots level to bring diverse groups together can produce profound results. We have witnessed, last month, people who a short time ago had very narrow and separatist views, coming to a much more balanced place as a result of our efforts.

This Year we are featuring two 200-Person Dinners,
one in Israel and One in Palestine In 2018.

We are once again hosting an interfaith Ramadan peace dinner for 200 people of the four major faiths in Israel, and a parallel Iftar dinner in Palestine for another 250 people. Both of these events have a combined budget of about $18,000. This includes renting large busses, food for 450, getting adequate banquet spaces, paying our peace-building project managers, flying Sheikh Ghassan and Anna to the Holy Land, photography, and many other expenses that make the event successful.

There are hundreds more who want to come to these breaking of the fast dinners – we actually have a waiting list of hundreds of interested people for these events – so this year we are doubling our Iftar capacity to try to meet the demand.

Please bear in mind that we now know that if 450 people are touched, the word will get out to ten times that many people, and the idea that peace could prevail becomes more of a reality every time we have a major event.

Many of you are donors already and we deeply appreciate that. But the need seems to be ever-present.

We really are making a difference and by donating you become part of something that you can truly be proud of.

All of us are fortunate in that we live in places that are not overly traumatic, and we are helping to create more places of peace and healing rather than trauma and tragedy. Please give what you can. 

A $100 donation will cover 3 people, $1000 will cover 33, and $10,000 will cover either dinner, start to finish, from planning to reporting. All this money will be spent on these programs in the Holy Land. Please give.

With profound hope,

David Less
Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board
[email protected]


Ramadan Iftar Peace Dinner

There is a peace that passeth understanding and abides in the heart of the one who knows “I Am”

 

The Abrahamic Reunion’s 14th Annual Multi-Faith Ramadan Iftar Peace Dinner

Dear Friends of the Abrahamic Reunion,

We are still receiving recognition and accolades for the events of the Week of Healing the Heart of the Holy Land.

It was great to finally get top-tier involvement from Israeli Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze religious leaders.  The work we did with the Young Peacemakers and in our very first Families Forum will continue on a regular basis supported by quarterly visits to the Holy Land by Sheikh Ghassan and Anna.

Just to reiterate the scope of the work that we are doing, we spent the morning with a bereaved Bedouin woman, the afternoon in an Israeli Settlement Yeshiva that had been attacked, and the next morning in the oldest Palestinian Refugee Camp, all as part of Healing the Heart of the Holy Land.

During this time of violence with many deaths in Gaza and rockets landing in Israel the need for our work is so very critical. We have proven that a concerted effort on a grassroots level to bring diverse groups together can produce profound results. We have witnessed, last month, people who a short time ago had very narrow and separatist views, coming to a much more balanced place as a result of our efforts.

This Year we are featuring two 200-Person Dinners,
one in Israel and One in Palestine In 2018.

We are once again hosting an interfaith Ramadan peace dinner for 200 people of the four major faiths in Israel, and a parallel Iftar dinner in Palestine for another 250 people. Both of these events have a combined budget of about $18,000. This includes renting large busses, food for 450, getting adequate banquet spaces, paying our peace-building project managers, flying Sheikh Ghassan and Anna to the Holy Land, photography, and many other expenses that make the event successful.

There are hundreds more who want to come to these breaking of the fast dinners – we actually have a waiting list of hundreds of interested people for these events – so this year we are doubling our Iftar capacity to try to meet the demand.

Please bear in mind that we now know that if 450 people are touched, the word will get out to ten times that many people, and the idea that peace could prevail becomes more of a reality every time we have a major event.

Many of you are donors already and we deeply appreciate that. But the need seems to be ever-present.

We really are making a difference and by donating you become part of something that you can truly be proud of.

All of us are fortunate in that we live in places that are not overly traumatic, and we are helping to create more places of peace and healing rather than trauma and tragedy. Please give what you can. 

A $100 donation will cover 3 people, $1000 will cover 33, and $10,000 will cover either dinner, start to finish, from planning to reporting. All this money will be spent on these programs in the Holy Land. Please give.

With profound hope,

David Less
Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board
[email protected]

Please consider supporting the Abrahamic Reunion and all the bridge-making, peace-building, and grassroots multi-faith networking that it creates with a recurring monthly donation.

How To Donate

Thank you for your years of support
 Please Donate Now!

 

To read more about the Abrahamic Reunion see these links below