Sheikh Khaled Abu Ras hosted the 14th annual Abrahamic Reunion multi-faith Ramadan Iftar meal and gathering at his home in the village of Ilut, near Nazareth, on June 8th. 220 people gathered to celebrate the event, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze, Israelis and Palestinians.
In addition to Ilut residents such as local high school principals and teachers, guests included Israeli Jewish professors from the “Way of Abraham” Jewish-Sufi study group and members of the “Niggun Halev” congregation. Two buses from Jerusalem brought Israeli Jews and Palestinians from East Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, Husan, Jericho and Nablus. Other Israeli Jews came from the Golan, Galilee, Tel Aviv, Otniel and Netivot.
Last year’s Iftar host, Ibtisam Mahameed brought a group from Faradis, Druze woman leader Siham Halabi came with a group of Druze women.
The day began with a panel of religious peace leaders addressing the meaning of fasting in their traditions. Sheikh Talat Abu Ras, Imam of the ‘Al-Iman’ mosque opened with chanting verses from the Quran about the commandment to fast during the month of Ramadan.
Abed Salaam Manasra, spoke about 3 levels of meaning for the fasting: a) refraining consuming from food and water during the day, b) refraining from any indecent actions, and c) staying in constant remembrance of G-d to reach a state of being in G-d’s presence.
Anglican Father Nael Abu Rahmoun honored the Muslims for fasting, comparing his own experience as a Christian: “Why do we fast? G-d doesn’t need our fast, we need it to educate our bodies and souls… to welcome the presence of G-d in our lives.”
Druze Sheikh Hussein Abu Rukkun from Isafiya blessed the Muslims during the month of Ramadan “ a month of joy, prayer, gatherings, charity.”
Rabbanit Hadassah Froman shared this tale. Once there was a field of wheat that belonged to two brothers, each brother tried secretly give his portion to the other. The spot where they met middle of the night… is where the Holy Temple, and Haram as-Sharif was built. “We are those 2 brothers, if each can give to the other, together we’ll make the world a holier place.”
Rabbi Yakov Drori from Tsfat: There are 2 kinds of days, work days, when we each do our separate thing, and holy days, when by refraining from certain actions for holiness, like on Shabbat, for Jews, and fasting on Ramadan, for Muslims…we are united. Let us …“take this feeling of being together….and with G-d, into the rest of the year.”
We then gathered for a group photo, religious leaders and coordinators. We needed to take a few photos, more leaders kept showing up to join in.
We all went upstairs to sit at long rows of tables and at 7:49 exactly, broke bread and shared the Iftar meal. A table with kosher portions was set up for the religious Jews.
Over the meal, Rabbi Yakov Nagen spoke of our Iftar 2 years ago: “While the Muslim fast ended earlier, the Jewish fast ended 20 minutes later… the Muslims insisted on waiting to eat until the Jews broke their fast.”
We broadcast the event on Facebook Live, where Daniel Aqleh, Evangelical minister from Bethlehem shared: “we came to gather forces… for prayer and justice and peace in the Land. May God’s mercy reign and grace prevail over all Israel and Palestine”.
We enjoyed a performance by Indian-American hip-hop artist Nimo Patel, with these lyrics: “spreading kindness for every living soul..when all is said and done, kindness is all we can leave behind..”
After the meal Muslims and Jews went to pray their evening prayers side by side.
Sheikh Hilmi Hamed, of the Qadiri Sufis opened the closing prayer circle with Sufi chanting in Arabic.
Druze leader Sheikh Jamal Khatib from Beit Jann shared: ‘By connecting hearts today, we help bring the prophecy of the Book of Isaiah to fruition: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks”. Sheikh Khatib praised host Sheikh Khaled Abu Ras, bestowing and wrapping him with an honorific wool robe.
Muslim woman peace leader, Mrs. Najah Kabaha offered a closing prayer: “may there be peace in the world, and peace in the Holy Land, may there be an end to all bloodshed”.
Closing words we offered by ultra-Orthodox woman peace leader Rebecca Abrahamson.
The gathering went on for hours…no one wanted to leave the positive feeling of Abrahamic unity.
Rodef Shalom Eliyahu McLean, and Sheikh Khaled Abu Ras,
Co-Executive directors of the Abrahamic Reunion in Israel
Thanks to the Abrahamic Reunion global office and for all who offered support to make this special event happen.
Event Photos On the Abrahamic Reunion Flikr Account Click Here https://www.flickr.com/gp/jerusalem_peacemakers/S38Z6o
Article on Israel21c.org featuring the AR’s Ramadan Dinner: