Faiths Meet to End Fast

Hungry Muslims and Jews meet to bridge the religious

Over 100 members of Harvard's Jewish and Muslim communities packed Ticknor Lounge last night to break their religious fasts together.

In an event organized by the Harvard Islamic Society (HIS) and Harvard Hillel, Muslim and Jewish students feasted on falafel and hummus after sundown to break the fasting observed during Yom Kippur and Ramadan.

The Jewish Holy Day occurred during the holiest month of the Islamic calendar this year and both groups abstained from food until sundown.

The fast to observe Yom Kippur began at sundown on Sunday and ended last night. Those observing Ramadan will continue fasting from sunrise until sunset everyday until the end of the Holy Month on Oct. 22.

United by their hunger, participants from both communities said they were pleased with the large turnout and cooperation between the religious groups.

HIS President Ali A. Zaidi ’08 said that interfaith events like this one help to “open dialogue, clear misconceptions, and help create common community between seemingly disparate groups.”

The collaboration between members of the two religions was well received by students, who mingled and discussed everything from the politics in the Middle East to their class work.

“When problems come up, it’s good to have the foundation of a friendship to discuss matters, whether religious or political,” said Harvard Hillel’s Vice President for Community Relations Erica L. Farber ’07.

“This [event] represents what’s awesome and unique about this community,” Matthew R. Greenfield ’08 said.

This was not the first time that HIS and Hillel have brought their members together. Last year, leaders of Hillel and HIS realized that Yom Kippur and Ramadan would fall during the same period for the next couple of years, according to Farber. A joint breaking of the fast was organized last year as well, resulting in the creation of “Jews and Muslims,” a group of freshmen who met every week for meals in Annenberg Hall, Farber said.

Hopes for even more interaction between the communities abounded at this year’s Yom Kippur meal, which Zaidi said boasted a larger turnout than last year’s.

In addition to last night’s meal, Hillel and HIS will gather for the Jewish Holiday of Sukkot next week and hope to promote more joint meetings in the future, according to Zaidi.