Religious groups break bread
By Anton Vidgen
Amid the hummus, baklava and kugel, almost 200 students from the major monotheistic religions on campus gathered for a dinner yesterday at Brescia University College to celebrate tolerance and understanding.
The second annual Cross Faith Ramadan Dinner brought together members of the Muslim Students' Association, Jewish Students' Union and the Christian Unity Committee to celebrate the Muslim holiday, said Mariam Abdo, organizer of the event.
As VP-administration of Brescia University College Students' Council last year, Abdo began the dinner in an effort to encourage dialogue on current events. "We were witnessing what was going on in the Middle East and it was troubling," she said. In response, Abdo said she wanted to dispel myths by bringing different religious groups together to bond over food. "Inter-faith dialogue is really important."
Brescia's academic dean, Lorna Bowman, echoed Abdo's remarks, stressing different faith groups must learn to talk with each other, particularly after the events of 9/11.
She also said the traditional Ramadan dinner - called Iftar, or breaking of the fast - was an ideal environment for members of the Western community to talk among themselves. "I think it's something that we'd like to continue."
Brescia Principal Theresa Topic said she was pleased to experience what Ramadan truly means among Muslim friends. "It's a festive opportunity for people of several faith traditions to come together," she said. "Understanding is so important."
JSU president Garry Diamond said he was pleased students of multiple faiths were in attendance. "The idea behind [the dinner] is to celebrate our similarities," he said, noting Jews and Muslims have similar religious customs, something many people do not know. "Both sides are here out of respect for each other."
"It's a positive step forward," said Adrienne Kennedy, VP-campus issues of the University Students' Council. "I would definitely like to see more cross-cultural and inter-faith events on campus, but this is definitely a step in the right direction."