Brooklyn Boro

Dawood Mosque hosts open iftar for community

June 30, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, known for his interfaith work, offers insights to the iftar attendees at Masjid Dawood. Eagle photos by Francesca N. Tate
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Members of Brooklyn’s Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith communities gathered last week at the Dawood Mosque — also known as the Islamic Mission Society in America — for their longstanding annual iftar. It was one of several held around Brooklyn during Ramadan, which began on June 6, but offered a more intimate setting, given the room size.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, emeritus of Congregation Mount Sinai, and Rabbi Serge Lippe, of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, spoke and addressed the recent Orlando mass shooting and the victims, many of whom were Latino. The iftar organizers welcomed members of Brooklyn’s Latino community to this year’s meal, as a sign of solidarity. Describing his friendship with Imam Abdallah Allam and his family, Rabbi Lippe said that God “expects us to share with one another. We have different backgrounds and speak different languages, and yet we are neighbors and friends. And rather than thinking we need to be the same and blended into one flavor, the beauty of the world is that we are all different, and we were created to be different, and to share in these things together.”

“When you look at the Torah and you count all the letters, you go to the middle letter, there’s one letter called ‘vav,’” said Rabbi Potasnik. “It’s a conjunction. It means ‘and. It connects one part to the other part. To me, that’s one of the most important letters in the entire Bible. It’s one of the most important words in the English language — ‘and.’ We’re here tonight — we as Jews and as Muslims and as Christians — we are all together.

“I think we have to stop with this exclusion of saying it’s ‘us or them,’ and instead it’s ‘us and them,’” he continued. “Remember, we’re not here just one day a year. We are together throughout the year. We are different faiths and we are one family.”

Arthur Levy, president of MouthPeace, Inc., discussed of the importance of such interfaith meals and of his organization’s endeavors to build friendships between Jews and Arabs. MouthPeace’s mission statement reads, “It is our mission to reduce nationality- and religion-based tension in Israel and adjacent territories by creating and promoting friendship between Arabs and Jews.”

Other speakers included Pastor Khader El-Yateem of Salam Arabic Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge, Douglas Jablon of Maimonides Medical Center and Debbie Almontaser.


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