The Maneater

Two faiths join together to Break Fast

The word "breakfast" draws its meaning from the first meal of the day ending a night of fasting.

Last Saturday, Muslims and Jews came together in Gwynn Lounge for the third annual Interfaith Break Fast, breaking a day of fasting with a nighttime vegetarian potluck.

Saturday's sunset marked the end of Yom Kippur, a Jewish day of atonement that began Friday at sunset, and created a 24-hour period during which able Jews fasted.

For the third year in a row, Yom Kippur overlapped with the traveling Muslim month of Ramadan, which calls upon Muslims to observe 30 days of sunrise-to-sunset fasting.

"The fasting is a great spiritual time to reflect on one's own spiritual recollection with the Lord," Muslim Student Organization spokesman Furqaan Sadiq said. "There's no better time to do it than with friends and family, especially with these chaotic times."

The local Jewish and interfaith organization Boone Tikkun invited the MSO and the Jewish Student Organization to help start the Interfaith Break Fast three years ago.

Boone Tikkun promotes peace, justice and reconciliation in the Middle East, specifically in Israel and Palestine, member George Smith said.

"Working to heal the Israel-Palestine conflict is the primary focus for us and for the organization Tikkun in general," Smith said. "That's why we use the word Tikkun."

Tikkun Olam is a phrase in Jewish prayer meaning "world repair."

Boone Tikkun member Marjorie Sable said the organization began the Break Fast to "break down the barriers and demystify the stereotypes between Jews and Muslims" by recognizing commonalties.

Sable led a traditional Jewish pre-meal prayer in Hebrew at the Interfaith Break Fast.

The vegetarian potluck helps Jews and Muslims recognize commonalities in their faiths, such as fasting and following dietary guidelines, said Sable.

"We didn't have to worry about kosher meat," she said. "Islam also has dietary rules. We made it vegetarian so we wouldn't have to worry about that. And it was all delicious."

Sadiq said he picked up on parallels between Sable's prayer and an Islamic one Break Fast participant Mahasin Awadelkarim gave.

"As different as they were, they all sounded essentially the same," Sadiq said. "They had the same elements."

Before the potluck began, David Schwartz, a student at Washington University in St. Louis, led Yom Kippur services at the JSO's Hillel building. Schwartz, who is minoring in Jewish studies and helped organize Washington University's own Interfaith Break Fast last year, arrived at MU last week to lead Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.

"Offering my services means that I'm able to try to facilitate a meaningful experience and a chance to help others find meaning in holidays," Schwartz said.

Although Yom Kippur and Ramadan have overlapped the past three years, they will not overlap again for 30 years, Sable said, due to differences in the Jewish and Islamic calendars.

But the holidays are as much personal experiences as they are ones to share.

"This holiday means that it's a chance for me to really have some one-on-one time with God, think about my relationship with God, and think about my behavior and what aspects of my character I need to work on," Schwartz said. "I find it to be a meaningful time for reflection."

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