Iftar: Muslims, Jews, Christians discuss fasting

Clergy finds commonalities between 3 faiths

Iftar interfaith breakfast 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Iftar interfaith breakfast 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jewish, Muslim and Christian clergy gathered on Wednesday evening in Jerusalem to discuss the commonalities between the three faiths and hold a joint iftar meal, at the break of that day’s Ramadan fast.
Those participating in the event at Mishkenot Sha’ananim strove to bring believers together under a banner of religious tolerance, coexistence and cooperation.
The discussion preceding the meal was led by Dr. Ron Kronish, director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel. During the talks, Father David Neuhaus, Rabbi Yehuda Gilad and Kadi Muhammed Zibdeh, deliberated the moral and social implications of the Ramadan fast, and discussed the significance of fasting in their own traditions.
All the speakers agreed that fasting is good for the soul, as it brings believers closer to God and to each other.
Zibdeh, the Muslim judge of Jaffa, stressed that Ramadan fasting should work itself out both inwardly and outwardly: As one fasts and is changed from within, cleansing takes place in the heart and prompts the individual to give to the needy and contribute to the environment around him.
Neuhaus, who represented Catholic Christians, added that fasting enforces the equality among people, since those who fast by choice put themselves in the shoes of those who have to do without food because they have none.
Gilad, the rabbi of Kibbutz Lavi in the North, compared the Ramadan soul-searching to the Yom Kippur fast, when Jewish believers reassess their relationship with God and one another.
The nearly 60 participants who came from all over the country and represented different streams of thought on the religious spectrum, then sat down for the meal, while continuing to chew over the issues raised during the discourse.
The event was hosted by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, whose resident representative Dr. Lars Hänsel noted that since religion lies at the core of the political conflict here in the Holy Land, it will also be a key component to the solution.
“Sitting those religious leaders next to each other has a symbolic value, which shows that coexistence is already taking place before our very eyes,” he said.
“It was important to bring Muslims, Jews and Christians to this event, even though it was a Muslim event,” Kronish summarized.
“One of the things we focused on was the fact that there are common humanistic values deeply rooted in the creeds, with different narratives.
It doesn’t mean that we agree on everything, but we like to stress what we have in common.”
Jonah Mandel contributed to this report.