Sadiq Kahn, Mayor of London was guest of honour at Finchley Reform Synagogue’s iftar fast-breaking meal on Sunday 26 June 2016. The event was held to celebrate a special three year friendship between the congregation of Finchley Reform Synagogue (FRS) and the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association (SBWA). Since 2013, FRS has played host to nightly prayer meetings throughout the holy month of Ramadan.
The SBWA provides religious, educational and welfare support to a community of refugees and their families, who fled conflict in Somalia. When their north London community centre was destroyed in an arson attack in 2012, Rabbi Miriam Berger of FRS offered a helping hand. With the support of North London Citizens community organising group, connections were established between the two groups that enabled the synagogue to become a temporary meeting place for Muslim prayers. The long wait for the SBWA to be able to move into their new centre continues, and in the meantime, FRS has now had the honour of playing host to four SBWA Ramadans.
Sadiq Kahn returned to FRS for a celebratory iftar with 200 guests, having also been present in 2014 and 2015. London’s first Muslim mayor spoke warmly about the inspirational connection between FRS and SBWA, and recounted that it is a story of friendship that he often shares with his fellow mayors from other cities worldwide. Rabbi Miriam said: “After a weekend of profound political uncertainty the coming together of two such different communities who are now long standing friends, along with the hope filled leadership of the Mayor of London, was a deeply healing moment for everyone there.”