Brooklyn’s interfaith community hosts iftars to counteract recent violence and rhetoric
Brooklyn Heights Synagogue’s 9th Annual Iftar Gives Chance to Lift Up Prayers Together
Brooklyn’s faith community is responding to recent hate crimes and terror around the U.S., and it is responding with love.
The Brooklyn Heights Clergy Association is in the midst of planning a vigil for next Monday, the details of which were not available by press time.
Meanwhile, both the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and the Borough President’s Office continued their respective traditions of hosting iftars, the “break-the-fast” dinners that take place during Ramadan. This Islamic holy month began on June 6.
“What we do here is not only a response to the haters in the world, but it also helps a tiny little bit to fix the carnage of these past few days, of those who would invoke God for terrible purposes. When we come together like this, we invoke God, the same God, a merciful, loving God who is present with us,” said Rabbi Serge Lippe of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, which hosted its Iftar on Tuesday, June 14. “That is one of the most important things we can do here, Ithink, in Brooklyn. There is no better place in America to be in than Brooklyn. In Brooklyn, we come together and we know that we are friends and we are neighbors. And when we lift our voices up in many languages, in many traditions, we are praying to one God who loves us all.”
Rabbi Lippe pointed out that his synagogue is enriched by the prayers of the Muslim neighbors who come to pray. This year marks the 9th annual Iftar that the synagogue has hosted for the Masjid Dawood on State Street. Masjid Dawood is the first mosque that was incorporated in the City of New Year during the 1940s.
“When members of the mosque come in here, and prayers are offered here, it raises the prayers of the synagogue up. We run a homeless shelter downstairs, here at the synagogue. The rabbis teach us that it’s hard to get wings on prayers. And one of the best ways we can get our prayers to rise up is [by having] other people who have sincere prayers offer [those] prayers,” said Rabbi Lippe.
“This time of year—a shifting time of year—when we gather during Ramadan here at the synagogue, this time when we welcome our friends and neighbors from the Dawood Mosque—your prayer service is much briefer, as you know, than our prayer service. But it also inspires us to lift our prayers up when we gather,” Lippe continued.
During the meal, one of the youths, the son of Imam Abdallah Allam, spoke of the pressures he encounters as a teen who wants to observe the disciplines of Ramadan, but also wants to fit in with his peers, who are not all Muslim or observant.
Rabbi Lippe facilitated the discussion by recognizing the Islamic commitment to charity. He invited members of the mosque and wider community to join the synagogue’s 33-year-old tradition of running a homeless shelter. He also announced that the Dawood Mosque would host its annual Iftar next week.
Borough President Adams Honors Wide Spectrum of Muslim Leaders
Muslims and members of the wider community filled the Ceremonial Courtroom at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Wednesday, June 15, for the Borough President’s Iftar, a tradition that dates back to the administration of former BP Marty Markowitz.
The group observed a moment of silence for the victims of the massacre at the Pulse night club in Orlando. And the Borough President honored several leaders for their constructive work in bringing communities together.
Brooklyn Civil Court Judge Carolyn Walker Diallo, the first black female Muslim judge in the state of New York, took office January 1, 2016, using the sacred scripture of her faith—the Qu’ran. During Wednesday’s Iftar, she received wide applause throughout her remarks.
Diallo’s swearing-in ceremony became controversial after the event when a social media post went viral because of her use of the Qu’ran instead of the Bible. Editor’s note: The law does not require any sacred text to be used; it is simply a longstanding tradition.
Judge Walker Diallo is not the first Muslim judge in New York state, nor is she the first to take the oath of office using a Qu’ran. Ten years ago, in 2006, Minnesota Rep. U.S. Keith Ellison also used a Qu’ran.
Walker Diallo spoke on her experience, stating that she hadn’t thought that her faith would become an issue. She recalled that people had talked about her age, or race and other matters. “I was a little bit struck when I found myself all over the Internet and the news. If anyone came to the ceremony, [they would see that] we had rabbis, we had imams, we had Baptist ministers…It’s my Constitutional right. If I had it to do all over again, I would. I am not ashamed of who I am,” said Diallo to applause.
“We are all people of God,” she added, urging everyone to stay united and get to know one another.”
Other honorees in law enforcement included: NYPD Lieutenant Adeel Rana, president of the Muslim Officers Society and Kashif Hussain of the Pakistani-American Law Enforcement Society.
Hafida Torres, president of the Moroccan-American Council to Empower Women, popular caterer and restaurateur Naji Almontaser, husband of educator and civil rights activist Debbie Almontaser; Erhan Yildirim, Director of Islamic Funeral Services; and Pastor Gilford Monrose, director of the Borough President’s Faith-Based and Clergy Initiatives Office were also honored for their outreach to the community.
The Consul General of Pakistan, Raja Ali Ejaz offered greetings. The evening’s emcee was Dr. Khadijah Abdul-Matin. She congratulated Iftar committee member Debbie Almontaser on earning her recent doctoral degree.
A children’s group, Nasheed by Muna, also sang. The Pakistani American Youth Society (PAYS) volunteered and served the Halal meal to the Iftar attendees.
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