Interfaith Ramadan meal brings people together in West Oak Lane

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Unity and compassion was the goal of an interfaith meal held at a Philadelphia mosque on Sunday night.

At 8:12 p.m. prayers were said and a day-long fast was broken.

Dozens gathered for the traditional Iftar meal at Masjidullah in West Oak Lane.

It's the meal that ends each daily fast during the sacred month of Ramadan.

"We fast from sun up to sunset. We don't eat anything. We don't put anything in our mouths. More importantly, we don't argue fuss and fight with people," said Imam Abdul-Halim Hassan

This meal was an interfaith Iftar open to all.

The dinner is free. Organizers instead asked for donations to be delivered to local food pantries.

It's the second year this special Iftar has been held. Before fast was broken, attendees talked with each other about ways they can bring more compassion into the world.

Organizers and attendees of various faiths say it's their way of combating anti-immigration rhetoric and religious persecution.

"We are gathering together to say that we will not be led into a mode of hating our neighbors because they are of a different faith," said Jacob Bender, executive director of Philadelphia chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations.

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote said, "We hang out together. We teach each other. We learn. We celebrate. We mourn. I've brought students here many times to learn about the history of this masjid. It's a beautiful history."

Elder Melanie DeBouse, the pastor of Evangel Chapel, said she's had the opportunity to attend several Iftars.

"It is imperative that the faith community finds a way to come together and find the things that unite us, rather than tear us apart," she said.
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