Abrahamic Reunion West Palm Beach Interfaith Iftar Dinner

Friday, June 24th, 8:30-9:30 pm, in Lantana, FL


Non-Muslim guests were invited to join in prayer together with the Muslim hosts

Around 60 people met at Masjid Al Tawad of Florida for an interfaith Iftar dinner hosted by Imam Dr. Zaher Badaraany. Everyone came together to break the fast with dates and water and to join in the prayers. Afterwards, everyone gathered for a delicious meal as presenters spoke about fasting, Islamophobia, and the importance of interfaith work.

Presentations were made by Imam Dr. Zaher Badaraany (Masjid Al Tawad), Atiquer Rahman (member of Masjid Al Tawad), Ted Brownstein (Baha’i/Lake Worth Interfaith Association), Rev. Tony Cato (New Hope Missionary Baptist Church), Norman Hemming (US Department of Justice), SheikhGhassan Manasra (The Abrahamic Reunion), Rev Renwick Bell (Christian), Lisa Stewart (Quaker), Rabbi Barry Silver (L’Dor V’Dor), and Maya Malay (Buddhist).

A group photo of the presenters and a few of the guests

A group photo with the presenters

Atiquer Rahman welcomed everyone to the dinner on behalf of Al Tawad, inviting everyone “to meet us, to work together, to build a bridge of love and communication with each other”.

Ted Brownstein reminded everyone of the true purpose of interfaith dialogue, to eliminate prejudice and “treat each other as individuals made in the image of God and really respect one another”. He concluded with words from the Baha’i writing: “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole world”.



Rev. Tony Cato reads Psalm 133, which begins “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together”.

Rev. Tony Cato spoke of the prejudice he has faced in his own life as a man of color. He encouraged members of the Muslim community to “Speak out… so that people will know who you are, what you stand for”.

Norman Hemming commended the Muslim community on their religion of peace and forgiveness, saying “Thank you for teaching us how to be good Americans”.

Sheikh Ghassan Manasra talked about the importance of connection between people, since that is the way to connect with God. “The connection between us and between God, it’s not through my work. No, it’s through all of you.”

Sheikh Ghassan Manasra says that without connection, he cannot be complete, even during Ramadan

Sheikh Ghassan Manasra says that without connection, he cannot be complete, even during Ramadan

Reverend Renwick Bell stressed the importance of actively striving for peace and justice, concluding that “God dreams of humanity. We cannot let God dream alone”.

Lisa Stewart talked about how labels divide us and what reconciliation between religious communities looks like, saying “We stop judging each other by our own rules of the game. We accept the fact that there are different games being played, according to different rules.”

Ted Brownstein briefly spoke again on behalf of the Jewish community, reminding everyone that the oneness of God is something all Abrahamic religions share.

Maya Malay spoke about fasting in the Buddhist tradition, and how it teaches self-control and self-discipline. She offered a prayer for peace by Bhante, a Cambodian monk, asking the Lord to “transform this world into love and compassion”. She concluded with a blessing, saying “in any challenge or situation, may love be the greater result”.

Imam Dr. Zaher Badaraany spoke next, to thank everyone for coming and to stress the importance of events like this in order to “raise our community and our families on love, not hate. On unity, not the separations”. He ended by calling on everyone to “continue in this way, for the way of love is the best way to live together”.

Imam Zaher thanks everyone for coming and encourages everyone to continue to strive for unity

Imam Zaher thanks everyone for coming and encourages everyone to continue to strive for unity

Rabbi Barry Silver told the story of Jacob and Esau from the Torah, comparing it to the today, saying that “when Jews and Muslims come together, and brothers are reconciled, the face of God appears”. His closing words were a call to everyone: “Let religion be used for its true purpose, to bring us together”.`

After everyone had spoken, Masjid Al Tawad awarded their first annual Accolade of Peace and Love to Ted Brownstein for his interfaith work in the community. They will present the award every year during the holy month of Ramadan.

Imam Zaher and Ted hold the award together

Imam Zaher and Ted hold the award together

Over the course of the evening, we learned that there are many meanings for the word “tawad”: “highest love”, “forgiveness”, and “great harmony”. All of these meanings were expressed during the evening, especially by the community of Masjid Al Tawad, who welcomed us with a banner of their logo, adapted to include all of the major world religions together. We are truly very thankful to the masjid, and Imam Dr. Zaher Badaraany, for hosting such a beautiful event full of love, hope, and a sense of community that lasted long after everyone had gone home.

Imam Zaher Badaraany, Rev. Chris Miller, and Ted Brownstein work together to name all of the religions represented on the banner

Imam Zaher Badaraany, Rev. Chris Miller, Rev. Tony Cato, and Ted Brownstein have fun naming all of the religions represented on the banner

AR West Palm Beach 2nd Meeting: Love & Connection: Can Religions Coexist In Todays World?

Tuesday, May 24th, 7-9pm, in Boynton Beach, FL

IMG_0219Over forty clergy and congregants from seven Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Baha’i congregations met at L’Dor V’Dor hosted by Rabbi Barry Silver and facilitated by Sheikh Ghassan Manasra of the Abrahamic Reunion, an organization dedicated to interreligious dialogue, encounter, and peacemaking in the Holy Land and the world.

IMG_0217This was the second Abrahamic Reunion meeting in the West Palm Beach area, calling attention to religious unity in the face of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and religiously motivated violence in the world. The theme of the meeting was “Love and Connection: Can Religions Coexist in Today’s World?”

Presentations were made by Rabbi Silver (L’Dor V’Dor), Imam Dr. Zaher Badaraany (Masjid Al Tawad, Lantana, FL),  Rev. Paul Kane (St. Paul’s Episcopal, Delrey Beach), Deacon Dennis Demes (Palm Beach Catholic Diocese), Sheikh Ghassan Manasra, Rev. Dr. Anna Less, and David Less (The Abrahamic Reunion), Ted Brownstein (Baha’i / Lake Worth Interfaith Association), Bassem Alhalabi PhD (FAU), and Rabbi Jenny Kuvin.

IMG_0220Imam Zaher reminded the group that “The word love was mentioned in more than 95 spots in The Holy Quran…and Perhaps the things Muslims need in this world in particular and non-Muslims in General is to talk about true love and to search for it again.”

Rabbi Silver challenged the group to repudiate violent anti-interfaith statements from Hamas, while the Abrahamic Reunion read it’sIMG_0243Declaration Of Interreligious Tolerance (see below) affirming its stand against religiously motivated violence of all kinds. He also shared from the Torah, “Thou shalt love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Found in both Exodus and Leviticus).

Ted Brownstein read a Baha’i prayer likening all religions to “rays of one sun” – and shared with the group the Marrakesh Declaration, which was issued in Muslim nations protecting the rights of religions minorities to exist within Muslim nations.

Rabbi Kuvin taught that the etymological meaning of shalom, commonly translated from Hebrew as peace, literally translates to “spirits learning to flow together”.

IMG_0228Deacon Demes offered prayer and shared that this is the “Year of Mercy” as declared by the Pope, exemplified by bringing Syrian refugees into the Vatican.

Rev. Kane shared the words of Pope Paul  VI “if you want peace, work for Justice.”

Rev. Dr. Anna Less led the group in a short exercise returning to the breath and sending peace to peoples of the world in need of peace.

Refreshments and conversation continued after the presentations including lively discussion about the violent parts of the Torah, Bible, and Quran, the abuse, misinterpretation, and misquoting of scripture by radicals and extremists, scholarly and public repudiations of religious violence,

The group plans to meet again during Ramadan for an Iftar dinner, which breaks the daily fast during the fasting month.

The Abrahamic Reunion is a 501c3 registered in the United States, and funded completely by donations. Donations go to support peacemaking projects and interfaith dialogue in Israel and Palestine, and interreligious text study and encounter groups in Sarasota, West Palm Beach, London, Istanbul, and other locations. For more information, contact info@abrahamicreunion.org.

Read the Abrahamic Reunion Declaration online here: http://www.abrahamicreunion.org/the-abrahamic-reunion-declaration/

The Abrahamic Reunion Declaration

Published: November 30, 2014  ~   0




Signed November 30th at the House of Hope, Shfar’am:

The Abrahamic Reunion, a group of spiritual leaders–Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze– have been working together for 10 years  promoting inter-religious harmony in the Holy Land.

We are women and men of the faiths of this land – our land – who meet together, walk together, eat together, and pray side by side in mutual respect. We demonstrate by our personal example that we can live together in peace and cooperation.

At this difficult time, we want to reaffirm to the public our heartfelt conviction, that (within) our religions are the pathways of love and peace.

We condemn the violence, hatred, racism, and suffering being inflicted upon our communities in the name of religion. We believe and we teach that the holy places of all the religions in the Holy Land must be  respected, and not defaced in any way, for any reason.

We are the Children of Adam and Eve, the Children of Abraham. To our regret, recently we have forgotten that we are from the same family. Arabs and Jews… let us remember that we are one family.

Religious Leaders signing document at the House of Hope, November 30, 2014:

Sheikh Abdel Salaam Manasra, Head of Qadiri Sufi Order of the Holy Land
Sheikh Ghassan Manasra, Lights of Peace Association/Anwar Il Salaam, Director, Abrahamic Reunion, coordinator
Elana Rozenman, Emun-Trust, Director, Abrahamic Reunion, founding member
Sheikh Abu Amin, Bedouin Mukhtar, Al-Sawaed
Rabbi Yosef Yashar, Chief Rabbi of Acco
Rabbi Eliyahu Kaufman, journalist and historian, Haifa
Rabbi Mordechai Minzberg, educator, Mea She’arim, Jerusalem
Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, Project Coordinator, Shorashim/Judur/Roots
Rev. Daniel Aqleh, Evangelical Minister, Bethlehem
Rodef Shalom Eliyahu McLean, Abrahamic Reunion coordinator
Elias Jabbour, Greek Melkite Christian, Hope of Hope, Director, Abrahamic Reunion, founding member

Abrahamic Reunion members co-signing, though not present November 30 at House of Hope:

Imam Khalil Albaz, Imam of Tel Sheva
Haj Ibrahim Abuelhawa, Mount of Olives
Ibtisam Mahameed, The Tent of Sarah and Hagar, Director
Deacon Jiries Mansour, Greek Melkite Church, St.Anthony’s School, principal
Reverend Father Masoud Abu Hatoum, Greek Melkite Church
Rabbi Yosef Hadane, Chief Rabbi of the Ethiopian Jews
Sheikh Hussein Abu Rukkun, Druze from Isafiya, Druze Council
Hadassah Froman, educator, wife of late Rabbi Menachem Froman, z”l

With support from and signing also:

Rabbi David Bigman, Ma’ale Gilboa Yeshiva
Father Nael Abu Rahmoun, Anglican Church, Nazareth
Sheikh Sameer Asi, Imam of Al-Jazzar mosque, Acco
Sister Trudy Nabuurs, Sisters of Zion, Ecce Homo Convent, Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem