As part of the Muslim Leadership Program study tour about religions in Australia, the participants in the program were welcomed to Shira on Friday the 9th of November. The MLP is a unique 36 day training course that aims to support leaders who can speak clearly and confidently about the various issues which confront people of Islamic faith in Australia and Southeast Asia today, and who can actively participate in shaping the region's future.
The evening began with a Q&A about Jewish beliefs and rituals followed by a joyful Kabbalat Shabbat service. Before Maariv, Yardena Prawer delivered a beautiful welcome message in Arabic, after which MLP participant Shahir Naga delivered a talk about the significance of the book of the Psalms and the Torah in the Islamic religion.
This is a reflection on the evening from Netzer Bogeret Lia Avisar.
“It wasn't a surprise for me that the two cultural groups at the dinner found plenty of things in common and got along so well. We are all individuals after all. I was however impressed by everyone's willingness and openness to question and share, with what seemed like such ease and comfort.
Once the Kabbalat Shabbat service ended, the group of Muslims invited us to observe Maghrib, their evening prayer. One of the Muslim women I particularly bonded with answered all my curious questions about some of the rituals we saw them perform. After sharing and comparing various rituals and customs from our respective religions and their streams, we both came to realise that the 'correctness' of a ritual or custom ultimately lies in the individual’s religiosity and their connection with the customAll the best or tradition.
Throughout the dinner, we continued to chitchat and laugh – she shared with me photos of her children and I shared with her photos of my pets! It was a lovely evening overall. Plus, Ittay’s icebreaker games were a hit! I left feeling as though stereotypes were slashed, preconceived ideas were challenged, and great new bonds were made. I hope this event will become an annual ‘tradition’ for both groups, and inspire others to open their doors and do the same.”