Jewish Community Relations Councilof San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

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Multifaith Iftar Dinner in San Mateo

July 8, 2015
Posted by: Dick Heiman, Peninsula Temple Beth El Representative

The sound of the Muslim call to prayer echoed in the sanctuary of Peninsula Temple Beth El (PTBE) in San Mateo as more than 200 members from 26 faith houses gathered together to celebrate the Muslim Iftar Service on Sunday, June 28th. Imam Fatih Ates of the Pacifica Institute introduced the theme of “building hospitality as a way of life” with the sacred ark of Judaism behind him. The Interfaith Committee of PTBE and Pacifica jointly hosted this second annual multifaith event.

Rabbi Dr. Reuven Firestone, Regenstein Professor in Medieval Judaism and Islam at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, gave the keynote address. He spoke of the shared tradition of hospitality as a cultural norm within Judaism and Islam. Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism also include hospitality and welcoming the stranger in their sacred texts and traditions. It was a special honor for Rabbi Callie Schulman of PTBE to introduce Dr. Firestone since he had been her teacher when she attended Hebrew Union College.

The Reverend Kristi Denham, one of the founders and Co-Chairs of the Peninsula Multifaith Coalition (PMC), was recognized by PMC and the Pacifica Institute for her many years of leadership in the Interfaith community. Reverend Denham, who is with the Congregational Church of Belmont, spearheaded the promotion of interfaith education on the North Peninsula.

After sunset, representatives from the faith houses feasted on a vegetarian dinner lovingly prepared by a team of chefs from Pacifica Institute. Sarma (stuffed grape leaves), fellah köftesi (bulgur balls with spices and yogurt) and baklava were among the delicacies served.

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslim people during which they maintain a daily fast, help those less fortunate and share Iftar with family, friends, and strangers. Having the Ramadan Iftar (a break in the fast) as a shared dinner with family and new people from different backgrounds is a meaningful way to promote dialogue and increase understandings of each other.

PHOTO: (from left) Fatih Ates of the Pacifica Institute; Rabbi Dr. Reuven Firestone, Regenstein Professor in Medieval Judaism and Islam at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; and Rabbi Callie Schulman, Associate Rabbi of PTBE. (Courtesy of Matthew Schulman)


Interested in attending a multifaith iftar? Join JCRC, Bay Area Cultural Connections, Calvary Presbyterian Church, FAITHS Program of The San Francisco Foundation, Interfaith Center at the Presidio, San Francisco Interfaith Council and United Religions Initiative for The Ramadan Experience on July 9th, 2015, in San Francisco. Event includes an inspiring interfaith program while enjoying an iftar feast, speakers, call to prayer and more! Organized by Pacifica Institute and Grace Cathedral.