Meet an “Iftar in the Synagogue” MC

July 25, 2013


See photos of “Iftar in the Synagogue” here:


by Jessica Kim Cohen
Communications Intern, JCUA

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, breaking their fast each evening with an “Iftar” meal. Celebrating this tradition, the annual “Iftar in the Synagogue” event creates a safe space for Jews and Muslims to join in an evening of interfaith prayer, keynote addresses and a shared kosher/halal dinner.

Past "Iftar in the Synagogue" participants

Past “Iftar in the Synagogue” participants

Co-sponsored by JCUA and the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals, along with other Jewish and Muslim organizations, this year’s “Iftar in the Synagogue” will take place Thursday, July 25, 2013 at Anshe Emet Synagogue.

“It’s an exciting program to be involved in, and it is definitely an experience you would not get at a lot of other places,” Margaret Port, “Iftar in the Synagogue” planning committee member, said. “A lot of stuff goes into planning such a big event, especially since it is an event that can be considered contentious by some. There is a lot of treading lightly to make sure that everyone’s needs are satisfied.”

“It is very eye-opening to different issues I would not have considered otherwise,” she continued.

This year’s theme, “Neighbors Against Bigotry,” focuses on opposing Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, going hand-in-hand with Margaret’s interests as a Jewish-Muslim Relations intern with JCUA. Acting as neighbors, planning committee members hope to combat discrimination by building personal connections between Chicago Jews and Muslims.

“This is definitely a community-building event,” Margaret said. “I have already seen from people in the planning committee that our two cultures are very similar. And, though we do have our differences, we are all living in the Chicago-area. We are all neighbors, fighting against some of the same issues that everyone in Chicago has been working on.”

Instructing people and encouraging conversations, Margaret will facilitate this mission as she co-MCs the event.

“I think the MC role is especially important this year, since the focus is on neighbors,” Margaret explained. “For a lot of people, this is their first ‘Iftar in the Synagogue.’ So encouraging conversations is a great way for everyone to get to know who they’re with as we get to know about both each other and our cultures.”


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

May 28, 2013

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Meet Volunteers Behind the Largest “Iftar in the Synagogue” to Date

July 12, 2012

By Michal Goldschmidt
JCUA 2012 Intern

Michael Goldschmidt

With our popular event, Iftar in the Synagogue, right around the corner (Thursday, Aug. 2), our planning committee is working hard to ensure the evening’s success. With more people expected to attend than ever before, there’s more preparation and organizing to be done, and our committee have their work cut out.

This past week the meeting was held in Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Hebrew Ethiopian Congregation – one of the three locations for “Iftar” 2012. Upon arrival, Tamar Manasseh, an energetic rabbinical student on the planning committee and a leader at Beth Shalom, greeted participants enthusiastically. She gave a tour of the synagogue, so that everyone could visualize Iftar occurring there and discuss which rooms should play host to which elements of the program.

Talia Yousuf (left) and Mariam Afzal, representatives of the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals.

As always, this year’s committee is made up of Jewish and Muslim volunteers, some of whom are representatives from co-sponsoring organizations and communities. Committee members Talia Yousuf and Mariam Afzal, representatives of the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals, are both extremely excited for the event and proud to be involved.

Talia noted that as much as the event itself is impressive and evokes a feeling of pride, “it’s the group of dedicated and diverse individuals from the committee who are the true source of my inspiration. It takes a lot of effort and dedication to bring forth such a large scale project.”

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2011 Recap: JCUA’s Year in Review

December 5, 2011

A year’s work for JCUA, “the Jewish Conscience of Chicago”

JCUA provided a zero-interest loan through our Community Ventures LLC to help Breaking Ground rehab 75 foreclosed homes in North Lawndale over three years.  Learn more about Community Ventures.

JCUA assisted public housing residents at Lathrop Homes to avoid displacement. Learn more about Lathrop Homes.

JCUA joined forces with community partners to form the Multifaith Foreclosure Reclamation Initiative, working to secure properties in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood and planning for more. Learn more about the work on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

JCUA leaders were instrumental in passing the Illinois DREAM Act, putting Illinois at the forefront in recognizing that we all benefit when immigrant students have opportunities for higher education. Learn more about JCUA’s involvement in the DREAM Act.

JCUA marked Black History Month with the “Garment of Destiny” multi-media project, an online campaign to combat racism. Watch and read the “Garment of Destiny” project.

JCUA, in meetings with the White House, advocated for comprehensive immigration reform and the creation of additional affordable housing to meet the critical needs of very low income families and individuals. Learn more about JCUA’s advocacy work in the White House.

JCUA’s Or Tzedek Teen program developed a cadre of 75 Jewish social justice leaders who have taken action on the most pressing social justice issues in Chicago. Learn more about Or Tzedek, a Teen Institute for Social Justice.

JCUA brought together more than 1,000 Jews and Muslims, helping to create a more open, embracing society. Watch and read about “Iftar in the Synagogue.”

Iftar in the Synagogue 2011 a Huge Success

August 23, 2011

More than 400 Jews and Muslims attended this year’s Iftar in the Synagogue, an annual event of JCUA’s Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative. The evening’s theme, “Diverse Experiences. A Common Future,” invited both communities to explore how to truly see each other by sharing diverse religious and cultural experiences, engaging each other in conversation, and empowering each other to build a common future.

Learn more about JMCBI in this video.

Here are some photos from the event.

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Iftar in the Synagogue 2011: “Diverse Experiences, A Common Future”

July 27, 2011

Iftar in the Synagogue is a unique interfaith gathering that is held during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.  This is the seventh year JCUA is putting on this special event.  It is a chance for people of different religions to come together and share their diverse religious and cultural experiences, engage in conversation and empower each other to build a common future.

This year Iftar in the Synagogue is taking place on August 18 from 6-9:30 p.m at Temple Sholom, 3480 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.  At this event there will be Jewish and Muslim prayers, speakers, conversation and a kosher/halal dinner.  We will also be collecting non-perishable food items to be donated to the Urban Minority Alliance (UMMA) Center.  This is a free event, but space is limited so please RSVP.

 If you are interested in volunteering at the event, or want to learn more, contact Asaf Bar-Tura at

Download the event flyer.

Iftar in the Synagogue 2011 is sponsored by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals, the Muslim Women’s Alliance, Temple Sholom, and the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.

Save the Date: Iftar in the Synagogue

May 23, 2011

We are pleased to announce details for Iftar in the Synagogue 2011.

When: Thursday, August 18, 6-9:30 p.m.

Where: Temple Sholom, 3480 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago (map it)

»See video of last year’s Iftar

VOLUNTEER: If you would like to be a part of planning Iftar in the Synagogue, or if you would like to help at the event, please contact Kayla (

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