Mosque and synagogue to exchange holiday visits

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In the spirit of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, Jews and Muslims in the Bronx will come together this week at a Riverdale synagogue and a Parkchester mosque to strengthen ties between their faith communities and bring light to an often dark and violent world

On Weds., December 17 at 6 p.m., Congregation Tehillah, located at 4450 Fieldston Road, will host a visiting delegation from the Islamic Cultural Center of North America (ICCNA) for a celebration of Hanukkah. On Friday, Dec. 19 at 12:30 p.m, a delegation from Congregation Tehillah will visit ICCNA, a predominantly West African mosque located at 2008 Westchester Ave., to observe the Friday Jumma prayers and join congregants there for a discussion on Islam and Judaism.

The back-to-back visits between ICCNA and Congregation Tehillah, co-sponsored by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC) in addition to the two Bronx congregations, are the final two events of the Weekend of Twinning and come at the end of nearly two months of Muslim-Jewish programs bringing together thousands of Muslims and Jews in more than 30 countries around the world. Sponsored by the New York-based FFEU, the Weekend of Twinning is based on the concept of synagogues and mosques and Muslim and Jewish organizations forming partnerships and holding joint programs. 

This year, in addition to New York, there were major twinning events in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Detroit, Houston, Toronto, London, Paris, Jerusalem, Singapore, Jakarta, Tunis and Abuja, Nigeria among many other cities. 

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn of Congregation Tehillah noted that Hebrew School students at her synagogue will host the visiting delegation of students and adults from Masjid Al-Imam on Wednesday, Dec. 17, narrating the story of the ancient Hebrews’ struggle for freedom and offering their guests the chance to light Hanukkah candles.

“Especially this year, given the violence around the world, we are pleased and proud that Muslims and Jews here in the Bronx will be lighting candles together against the darkness,” Rabbi Shriner-Cahn said.

ICCNA’s Sheikh Moussa Drammeh, who has built a strong relationship with JCRC as well as Congregation Tehillah and other synagogues in recent years, remarked, “We are building bridges of peace and understanding in the Bronx because we understand that if Jews and Muslims meet with each other and learn about each other’s faiths, we will cease to fear and mistrust each other.”

“We are pleased to be concluding our largest-ever global Weekend of Twinning right here in New York,” said FFEU President Rabbi Marc Schneier. “Even as grim headlines have created a picture of endemic conflict between our two faith communities; in reality more and more Muslims and Jews are reaching out to each other in the Bronx and around the world. That is an inspirational story that needs to be told.”

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