Last Friday night after Shabbat services, members of HCRJ caravanned to a mosque in Katy to participate in a brief program entitled, Ritual Fasting in the Abrahamic Faiths. After a wonderful program with an imam and two reverends, we shared in a joyous Iftar (break-the-fast). One thing we all learned that night was that fasting plays a central role in each of our faiths.
In Judaism, the discipline of fasting serves two main functions. Fasts are used to focus our attention (as is done on Yom Kippur) as well as commemorate tragedies (which was the purpose of a little known fast that took place in the Jewish world yesterday).
Yesterday was a Jewish fast day called, The Fast of Tammuz, which commemorates the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. While very few Reform Jews observe this solemn day, this year groups of Jews around the world sought to find new meaning and new significance in their fasting by doing so in solidarity with the Muslims in their communities.
Here in Houston, Jews and Muslims broke their fasts together at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church as a public demonstration of good faith and brotherhood. This united effort represents an important symbolic effort in an ongoing commitment to building bridges of trust and understanding despite the war between Israel and Gaza.
Join us tomorrow night at HCRJ as we continue in these good faith efforts as we host an interfaith Iftar. Click Here For Details.
We may not be able to bring peace to the Middle East, but publicly embracing interfaith spiritual events like these help build bridges of trust and understanding between our religious communities here in Houston. These bridges may be a very small part of the picture, but they constitute an important step in in the right direction.
L’Shalom — Steve