Meet Saleha Jabeen: A Muslim Student at a Catholic Seminary, Building Relationships Between Jews and Muslims in Chicago

Meet Saleha Jabeen – an Indian-born Muslim student at the Catholic Theological Union, who is part of the leadership team organizing the annual “Iftar in the Synagogue” event, as part of JCUA’s Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative.

by Jessica Kim Cohen
JCUA Intern, Communications

Saleha Jabeen

Saleha Jabeen

In an event encouraging the Jewish and Muslim communities to come together, JCUA is partnering with other Jewish and Muslim organizations to hold its ninth annual “Iftar in the Synagogue.”

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and break their fast each evening with an “Iftar” meal. In celebration of this, Iftar in the Synagogue includes prayers, speakers and a kosher/halal dinner. One of the major events of the JCUA summer, it will take place Thursday, July 25 at Anshe Emet Synagogue.

27-year-old Saleha Jabeen, a student pursuing an MA at the Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park, is volunteering as a leader on the event planning committee (find out how you can volunteer as well).

“I always try to volunteer with different organizations, so I was excited to hear about JCUA. I love finding organizations that hold onto the core beliefs of a religion, rather than the traditional religious aspects,” Saleha said.

According to Saleha, one of the most powerful ways to create connections is to visit other religious groups’ places of worship. It is this dedication to interreligious communication that drove Saleha to volunteer with Iftar in the Synagogue.

“Opening doors to others who do not believe, but who do respect, is a powerful way to get people intrigued about each other’s cultures, whether Catholic, Jewish, or another faith,” Saleha explained. “For instance, although I am Muslim, I have gone to churches and participated in their traditions. Growing up in India, I also learned about Hinduism.”

“In this way, Iftar in the Synagogue is pretty groundbreaking,” Saleha added, excited about a synagogue opening up its doors to Muslims and their sacred traditions. “Not to mention, relationships are made over meals!”

When asked what draws people to Iftar in the Synagogue, Saleha cites those who have a vision for diversity, those who like to celebrate difference, those who respect humanity and those who want to educate others on similar issues.

Want to be an “Iftar in the Synagogue” volunteer or leader?

If you would like to be on the event planning committee, or to volunteer at the event, please let us know here.

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