On Friday night, March 9, 2018, Toronto Muslims joined members of Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue as they celebrated Shabbat.
The gathering was part of a continent-wide event, Shabbat Across North America, in which hundreds of synagogues across North America take part in an historic national Jewish event to celebrate what unifies all Jews — Shabbat.
This year, Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue extended an invitation to Muslims to attend the Shabbat Across North America service.
“Tonight, we’ve been welcomed into this comfortable, secure and sacred place,” said Muneeb Nasir, Muslim religious leader, in his keynote address. “May God bless you for your kindness and generosity this evening and for making us feel at home.”
Rabbi Howard Morrison and Ahmet Tamirci, National Director of the Intercultural Dialogue Institute, facilitated the program.
“By participating in this continent-wide event, you will not only have the opportunity to experience Shabbat, but you will be sharing your experience with tens of thousands of Jews across North America,” said the organizing body, NJOP (National Jewish Outreach Program) on its website. “NJOP’s annual Shabbat program will give you a “taste” of Shabbat.”
Rabbi Howard Morrison graciously welcomed the Muslim guests into the synagogue and provided explanatory commentary throughout the Shabbat service.
Following the Shabbat service, the Muslims prayed the sunset prayer and then there was a delicious meal and lively table discussions.
The keynote addresses were delivered by Senior Rabbi Howard Morrison and Imam Muneeb Nasir, both of whom addressed the question, ‘Can we be at home in different places?’”
Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue is a vibrant and dynamic conservative congregation in north Toronto with a growing and active membership. The congregation comprises over 1,400 families from all levels of observance, with 45% of new members under the age 36.
The other facilitator of the event was the Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI) that is a non-profit organization whose stated purpose is to ‘advance social cohesion through personal interaction by promoting respect and mutual understanding among people of all cultures and faiths through dialogue and partnership.’
“Home offers refuge in the spiritual sense, a protected place in which to thrive,” said Muneeb Nasir. “To be at home is to have tranquility and to be surrounded by love, affection and mercy.”
“What I have learnt from you tonight is that Shabbat nurtures tranquility, love and mercy.”