Have you ever attended an iftar? In Arabic iftar means breakfast, and it refers to the evening meal Muslims eat to break their daily fasting during the month of Ramadan. Eaten after sundown, they are often festive affairs.
On June 7th, while in Jerusalem for a meeting regarding St. George’s College, The Rev. Jim Bimbi, rector of St. James’ Mill Creek, was honored to be invited to the iftar hosted for the Muslim community by Archbishop Suheil Dawani, Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Jim was at St. George’s as a representative of the North American Committee (NAC) that raises funds and recruits pilgrims to attend the short-term pilgrimages offered by the College.
It was Jim’s first iftar, and he reports it was quite the gathering! Held in The Bishop’s Peace Garden at the Cathedral of St. George, about one hundred Muslims and Christians came together to dine on figs, hummus, olives, various vegetable salads, and flat breads – all before being served an entrée of roasted lamb and rice. And for dessert it was qatayef bil-kishta, fried sweet pastries filled either with goat cheese or chopped walnuts.
Following the dinner there were speeches by both Palestinian Christians and Muslims, ending with the Grand Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the Sunni Muslim cleric in charge of Jerusalem’s Islamic holy places. He appealed for Christians not to abandon their place in Jerusalem, stating that Christians both belonged and were needed in The Holy City.
Besides the dinner itself, what Jim enjoyed was simply talking to the various people who were present—including the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, Patriarch Theophilos III, and a local Palestinian businessman who was bringing his wife and two children to the United States this summer. Their destination? Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida!
For information on joining a pilgrimage course offered by St. George’s College, visit their website or call the Rev. Jim Bimbi at (302) 994-1584.