Ameenah Muhammad had never been to a synagogue until this week. But during a prayer service held at Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation, the 17-year-old Muslim was amazed to see a resemblance to her faith.
“I thought it was really similar to the way we pray in the mosque. The way the men and women were separated and the sound of the prayers, it all felt familiar,” she said.
“I’ve never had any experiences with Jewish people,” she admitted with a shy smile. “So, I came here because I wanted to find out more about them. For me, this was nice.”
About 150 Jews and Muslims gathered at the Orthodox synagogue on Monday night to eat falafel, trade stories and learn about their respective rituals and faiths.
This is the third year the Muslim holiday month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Sukkot coincided, providing the communities a chance to celebrate together under a sukkah, the temporary structure Jews build during Sukkot.
In the two previous years, Rabbi Asher Lopatin said, the synagogue hosted similar gatherings organized by the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs but few Muslims attended. This year, “Iftar in the Sukkah” drew the biggest crowd and nearly two dozen Muslims.
Lopatin said he was glad that people are starting to connect.
“As an Orthodox Jew, I feel like this is what God wants,” he said. “God has given us the tools to do this by having Ramadan and Sukkot occur at the same time. (READ MORE)