Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Interfaith understanding promoted during MLK weekend

By Trumpet Blog Staff

In an effort to enable interfaith discussion and understanding, the congregations of the Touro Synagogue and Masjidur Raheem will come together during the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend for the 4th Weekend of Peace.

The weekend's events will also include a community service event for the needy on January 15 co-hosted by both congregations. Volunteers will serve a hot meal, distribute canned goods and clothing and offer primary health screenings, including dental screenings. Entertainment for both children and adults, including participation from the New Orleans Hornets as well as music by the Hot 8 Brass Band, will also be available.

The first Weekend of Peace took place in 2005, when Touro Synagogue and Masjidur Raheem began developing and nurturing a relationship to facilitate interfaith understanding. This initial effort was led by Touro Synagogue congregant and then New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President, now Councilman-at-Large Arnie Fielkow, with the support of clergy Rabbi David Goldstein of Touro Synagogue and Imam Rafeeq Nu'man of Masjidur Raheem. The event was recreated in 2007 and 2008.

In mid-2010, both congregations, at the request of Fielkow, decided to rekindle and expand the relationship. Chairpersons for the 2011 Weekend of Peace include synagogue congregants Lisa Herman and Larry Orlansky, along with masjid congregants Musheer Abdul-Jabbaar and Safiyullah Yusuf, and clergy Imam Rafeeq Nu'man and Rabbi Alexis Berk. On November 15, 2010, Touro hosted "Living Our Faith," an evening of dinner and dialogue for members of both congregations led by the Rabbi and the Imam. The dinner gave members of the masjid and the synagogue an opportunity to talk informally and learn more about each other and each other's religions. The clergy-led dialogue allowed participants to explore questions about faith from the perspective of members of both religions.

Members of the masjid and the synagogue plan to schedule further activities together during 2011, including joint worship and discussion groups.

"When two congregations come together to plan an event like this, there is solidarity in knowing that although we worship differently, we share the common goal of promoting peace. Whether you greet friends with the Hebrew word 'Shalom' or with the Arabic words 'As-Salaam Alaikum', both phrases impart peace," said event co-organizer Lisa Herman, member of Touro Synagogue.

"The Weekend of Peace has been successful over the years, and I look forward to expanding the relationship between our congregations. Knowledge is the key to peace, and as we learn more about each other's faiths, we have greater respect of faiths that are not our own," said Imam Rafeeq Nu'man.

"New Orleans has always been home to numerous religions and races. Thus it is only fitting that we host a weekend of religious friendship and tolerance during the weekend that celebrates Dr. King. This is an event that I strongly support, and I look forward to seeing it continue for years to come," Fielkow said.

Remembering MLK: Upcoming Community Events

Interfaith Volunteer Event

Date: January 15, 2011

Time: 1PM – 4PM

Place: Jomo-Kenyatta Park, 1115 N. Claiborne Avenue

Interfaith Martin Luther King, Jr. Day March

On January 17, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, congregants from both faiths will march from the steps of City Hall to the Bust of Dr. King on Claiborne Avenue under one banner, proclaiming "Many Religions, One Community". All are welcome to join.

Time: 9 a.m.

Place: Meet at steps of City Hall, 1300 Perdido Street and proceed to the bust of Dr. King on Claiborne Avenue.

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