Ultimately, it could become the template for Middle East peace; start at the human level, build confidence, and then the exact location of borders does not matter. If words on a piece of paper are the only basis for peace, peace will not occur. Muslims and Jews; neither are inherently better or worse than each other. But until a way is found to do what's being done below, on a world basis, there will never be justice, or peace.
Pleasantville synagogue, Thornwood mosque members will break bread in fundraiser (link, excerpts below)
PLEASANTVILLE — If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then how could a homemade dinner featuring chicken haleem with biryani and kasha varnishkas and gefilte fish keep the Jewish and Muslim communities apart?
“I am most looking forward to some Muslim cooking,” joked Rabbi Mark Sameth, of the Pleasantville Community Synagogue, talking about an interfaith dinner organized by Under One Roof, a charity founded by members of the synagogue and the Upper Westchester Muslim Society Mosque in Thornwood. The dinner, to be held on Sunday, is devoted exclusively to the two communities and is not open to the public.
Close to 80 members of the mosque and synagogue are expected to attend the event, a fundraiser for two international nonprofits. The proceeds will go to the Israel-based Birthday Angels, which provides birthday parties for orphans — both Arab and Israeli, and to support the work of Dr. Hawa Abdi in Somalia, who created a refugee camp for battered women and children.
“There is a common perception that the two communities do not see eye-to-eye,” said Dr. Mahjabeen Hassan, a plastic surgeon who moved to the United States in
1977 from Pakistan. “Many people feel there is so much baggage there that things can never change. But that’s a very negative way of thinking.”
Hassan, a Pleasantville resident for more than 25 years, said that “writing books” and “being on TV” cannot achieve as much as sitting down for a meal together can. The Thornwood mosque draws people from many countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Turkey, she said.
“To me, if we are living in a multicultural society, then we should not be staying w ithin our culture or religion,” said Mumtaz, whose husband, Aamir Mumtaz, is the president of the board of the Upper Westchester Muslim Society Mosque. “We should be mingling with others, and getting to know each other.”
Rabbi Sameth said the group was formed because the community felt the need for it from within.
“It’s not a top-down relationship,” said Sameth, meaning it wasn’t initiated by the clergy or others in positions of power. “It bubbled up from within the two communities. Friendships are growing, relationships are growing and we are helping others.”
Rabbi Mark Sameth of the Pleasantville Community Synagogue and Dr. Hassan of the Upper Westchester Muslim Society in Thornwood pose Jan. 19, 2012 at the Community Synagogue in Pleasantville with a cookbook that will be sold at an interfaith dinner. The dinner will benefit Birthday Angels, which provides birthday parties for orphans in Israel, and to support the work of Dr. Hawa Abdi in Somalia, who created a refugee camp for battered women and children. / Joe Larese/The Journal News (image in article)