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January 03, 2013 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-01-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

DETROIT
SYMPHONY
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New Friends

Jewish and Muslim groups gather together for prayer,
conversation and several meals.

Shelli Liebman Dorfman
Contributing
Writer
I

B

eing welcomed into a mosque
from the first moment with
`Salaam alaikum is not proba-
bly an experience that most Jewish peo-
ple have said Rabbi Dorit Edut, who
teaches at the Isaac Agree Downtown
Synagogue in Detroit.
"Having Muslims attend a Jewish
Sabbath service is also an unusual expe-
rience for most of us," Edut said. "Yet
this wonderful, peaceful and spiritually
uplifting experience is something that
occurred in downtown Detroit. This
actually happened in the midst of the
crisis in Israel and Gaza, though it cer-
tainly had not been planned or antici-
pated to be at the same time"
Members of the Downtown
Synagogue and the Detroit Interfaith
Outreach Network joined together the
weekend of Nov. 16 with members of
the Muslim Center of Detroit, first at
Friday afternoon services at the Muslim
Center and again on Saturday morning
at a Shabbat service at the synagogue.
The congregations were part of the
fifth annual Weekend of Twinning,
where across town Temple Kol Ami
(TKA) in West Bloomfield and the
Muslim Unity Center of Bloomfield
Hills also participated with a Sunday
program and tour of the mosque and
the first annual Ernst Conrad Social
Action Shabbat on Friday evening at the
synagogue.
The program, coordinated by TKA
Rabbi Norman Roman, honored the late
TKA founder.
"Last year, we had discussed naming
our Social Action Shabbat in memory of
Rabbi Conrad because of his commit-
ment to social action and social justice
causes:' said David Henig, a member of
the Social Action Committee. "He had
seriously strong convictions in the social
action area, and we are proud to follow
in his footsteps. Social action is and
has always been a strong component of
Temple Kol Ami's persona"
Members of the Kol Ami committee,
chaired by Lisa Redmond, welcomed
guests and facilitated table conversa-
tions during an Oneg Shabbat.
The annual Weekend of Twinning is
organized by the Foundation for Ethnic
Understanding in cooperation with the
World Jewish Congress and the Islamic
Society of North America. It includes
involvement of 250 Muslim and Jewish
organizations in 26 countries whose

At the mosque: Lee Schottenfels and Mel Chudnof, both of West Bloomfield and
of Temple Kol Ami, with Shahina Begg of Bloomfield Hills and of the Muslim
Unity Center of Bloomfield Hills.

members participate in prayer services,
food, friendship and discussions, and
learning about each group's religious
practices, prayers, customs and beliefs.

A New Experience

At the service at the Muslim Center of
Detroit, Edut said, "[We] were warmly
greeted both by the congregants before
the service and during the service by
Imam Abdullah El-Amin, who spoke of
the good relations being built between
our two communities and of the need
for men to treat their wives with respect
so that they would also be respected in
the world:'
Women were given scarves to cover
their heads and sat in the middle and
back of the carpeted sanctuary, while
men sat in the front half, with the sec-
tions divided by a rope. Chairs were
available for those who wanted to sit on
the sides or back of the room, but most
sat on the carpet.
"All removed their shoes before com-
ing into the sanctuary and were encour-
aged to wash hands, face and feet to
ensure both bodily and spiritual purity
before entering the sanctuary:' Edut
said.
"Two hundred Muslim members of
the congregation entered quietly, each
one bowing and saying their own prayer
silently, while the Imam gave his teach-
ing in English. Then people formed
lines standing up and facing the front,
listening to the Arabic lines chanted that
gave praise to Allah, bowing and pros-
trating themselves several times, and
responding with a few words in Arabic
meaning: 'God is great!'
At the end, everyone greeted the
others with, 'Peace be with you. Salaam
alaikum,"' she said.
Gail Katz of the interfaith women's
group WISDOM, who has attended

Gail Katz and Downtown Synagogue
President Leor Barak of Detroit at
the Muslim Center of Detroit.

other mosque services, found the pro-
gram a blend of traditional prayers with
a modern-day message that easily and
naturally brought people of different
backgrounds, ages and cultures together.
Karen Knox of the Downtown
Synagogue was fascinated by the new
Jazz Cafe that the mosque has opened in
memory of Walid Muhammad, a mem-
ber who was a well-known trombonist
with the Dizzie Gillespie band.
Shabbat services at the Downtown
Synagogue were followed by a Kiddush
luncheon.
"Many questions about Judaism and
the service itself were answered during
the friendly conversations over vegetar-
ian lasagna, split pea soup and blue-
berry pie that synagogue members had
prepared for lunch:' Edut said.
"We hope to have more opportunities
to do things together, especially for the
good of our city, and learn about each
other's traditions in the coming months.
We hope that this peaceful gathering
will serve as a model to others in the
rest of our world who think that Jews
and Muslims cannot get along:'



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