This year the Alyth Synagogue Iftar took place on erev Shabbat, Friday night, for the first time. The evening began with a session called “Anything you wanted to know about Islam but were afraid to ask”, hosted by Julie Siddiqi, national co-ordinator of the Big Iftar, and Rabbi Josh Levy. The Synagogue Beit Midrash was packed as members asked questions on political, practical and religious topics.
This is the fourth year that Alyth has invited the local Muslim community to join members of the Synagogue for an Iftar, the meal and prayers at the end of each day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Muslim guests from all around the local area joined our regular three hundred members of the Synagogue for the Kabbalat Shabbat service in which Julie Siddiqi gave the D’var Torah. Her D’var Torah joined the Alyth Synagogue event with the Great Get Together weekend that was taking place throughout Britain in memory of the murdered MP Jo Cox.
Following the service more than 100 members and Muslim guests stayed to learn in a choice of sessions comparing the Muslim and Jewish concepts of the duty to give to others – Zakat and Tzedakah. Henry Grunwald, Trustee of World Jewish Relief, taught alongside Islal Uddin, Fundraising Manager of Muslim Hands. Alyth’s Rabbis Mark Goldsmith and Maurice Michaels taught alongside local Muslim teachers about the individual level of the obligation to give and its roots in both faiths. Laura Marks, Founder of Mitzvah Day and Julie Siddiqi, who was the founder of the Muslim Sadaqah Day taught about the obligation of hands on volunteering.
At 9:30 in the evening the Muslim call to prayer was chanted in the Synagogue and then then Muslim prayers took place in Alyth’s Leo Baeck Hall, observed by many Synagogue members. The evening ended with a shared Shabbat and Iftar meal in a warm and friendly spirit with Jews and Muslims talking together through the evening.
Rabbi Mark Goldsmith said: “This year our Iftar was full of people from the local area, work colleagues, friends and schoolmates coming together as a community of Jews and Muslims. One Alyth member said to me that the Alyth Iftar was the antidote to the horrendous events of the past two weeks.”
Rabbi Josh Levy said: “It was special to enable Muslim guests to experience a joyful, musical Friday night service and to share the ruach we experience each week.”