NV: Area Muslims, Jews Building Ties


A visit by Reno-area Jews to the Northern Nevada Muslim Community Center on Sunday involved more than Ramadan and the Jewish High Holy Days falling at the same time.

It's about building ties between Muslims and Jews.

Local Muslims invited Temple Sinai members to the community center and mosque to break a Ramadan fast at sundown Sunday.

The gathering in Sparks was planned as Jews observe the High Holy Days and Ramadan gets under way.

At least a dozen members of Temple Sinai visited the Muslim community center.

"A lot of Muslims and Jews are cousins, neighbors, and we have a lot of common problems," said Mike Medvin of Temple Sinai. "If we can't sit down and have dinner together and talk, we're never going to be able to solve the problems.

"If people do not stand up together and speak against inhumanity, there will always be inhumanity," he added.

Waseem Akhtar, a Muslim, called the visit "good for the community. It will bring us closer together, and that's definitely good for all," he said.

Imam Abdul Barghouthi of the Muslim community center in Sparks said he borrowed the idea for the gathering from other states.

"I believe there is a move toward that from the different faith groups where people, religious people, are feeling that their faith -- regardless of what it is -- can contribute to a better world, should contribute to a better world," he said.

"The only way we can do that is by reaching out to the other faiths and working together, instead of against each other," Barghouthi said. "I hope we can minimize our differences and emphasize our similarities and see where it goes from there.

"I am hoping to start a interreligious and interfaith dialogue so our groups, our respective groups, will get to know one another. By doing that, we will have a relation(ship) that is based on knowledge and respect, and we will try to get rid of the ignorance of each other's faith and each other's practices."

Rabbi Myra Soifer of Temple Sinai was asked to speak about Rosh Hashana -- the Jewish new year-- and Yom Kippur, the year's holiest day for Jews.

Barghouthi and Soifer wrote about the gathering in a joint column in Saturday's Reno Gazette-Journal. "World politics often divide Muslim and Jewish communities," they wrote. "Tragically, often that divide is a violent one. We see blessing in this confluence of our communities' most sacred times."

Rosh Hashana and Ramadan started over the weekend.

 


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