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Muslims and Jews celebrate Ramadan together in Sheepshead Bay

All faiths: The Kings Bay Y, a Jewish community center in Sheepshead Bay, hosted an interfaith iftar dinner for the holy month of Ramadan on May 17. Muslims, Jews, Christians and others attended.
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Jews and Muslims broke Halal and Kosher bread together at an interfaith dinner for iftar — the nightly meal during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan — on Thursday. One Midwood attendee of the event said such displays of coexistence are extra important now considering tensions between the two groups in the Middle East.

“If ever time people come together as Americans and Brooklynites, this is the time,” said Benjamin W Schaeffer. “When people interact can appreciate those shared values.”

The Kings Bay Y, a Jewish community center in Sheepshead Bay, hosted the May 17 event in partnership with the Turkish Cultural Center of Brooklyn — also in Sheepshead Bay. Kosher and Halal food was available, students played music, and an imam educated the audience on Ramadan, when Muslims fast while the sun is out. The meal was open to people of all faiths.

The dinner is part of a youth program the Y coordinates for Jewish and Muslim students, where they learn about each others’ religions. The educational talks by rabbis and imams, coupled with fun get-togethers like the iftar, help Jews and Muslims grow closer in southern Brooklyn, no matter what happens in the rest of the world, according to the director of teen services at the Kings Bay Y.

“Many issues set Muslims and Jews apart. This event shows we’re still united,” said Tomer Kornfeld. “It was imperative to have.”

The community center has hosted the iftar since 2013. Its interfaith program includes Muslim students from the Brooklyn Amity School, which has a large Turkish-American population, and Jewish students who are part of the Kings Bay Y. One Amity 12th grader said such interfaith meet-ups taught her that the two Abrahamic traditions aren’t so different.

“I learned a lot about Judaism that I didn’t before,” said Nihal Catkal. “There are a lot of similarities between the two.”

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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