Riham Osman, a member of MPAC, began the brief speeches made by 3 women at the Interfaith Ramadan Iftar dinner, which was attended by 80 people, mainly leaders of interfaith organizations and the ambassador of Mozambique. She discussed her Ramadan experience in DC, explaining that she had attended various Iftars. Her most memorable experience was at the White House and having the opportunity to discuss with President Obama. She recalls Obama’s emphasis on the fact that “across all faiths, young people are pulling away from religion” and called for a discussion on how to attract the youth. Osman also explained how Obama’s experiences as a Christian in Muslim countries helped him relate to the Muslim faith but that “at the end of the day it goes back to being a good human being.”
Patricia Zapor, a National Catholic Reporter, discussed the tradition of Iftar. Iftar has helped her understand Islam to a greater extent, “as well as getting a better sense of what is going on in the world”. She addressed Pope Francis’s actions, applauding his travels and overall message, explaining that it has “raised the level of conversation between faiths.” She further complimented his personal touch, and his speech in South America discussing poverty and economics.
Cantor Hinda Labovitz, a member of the Ohr Kodesh Congegration, ended the dinner’s remarks. She described a female-only Facebook group she belongs to that “represents a cross-section of Jews and Muslims.” The group has taught her that after reaching a certain level of faith, religious individuals face the same problems. She also emphasized the importance of food in religion, as an instrument to separate impulsive animals and faithful humans. She ended the conversation with a blessing: “I bless us, through our abstinence, through our openness, through our acceptance of others and faiths, to find fulfillment every day. May our active choices as partners and limitations in society provide us new opportunities for growth and belief. May our communication be welcome and accepted by the one to whom we spiritually direct these prayers.