Muslim and Jewish community unite to celebrate Sukkah at mosque in Brent
PUBLISHED: 15:10 24 October 2016
A Mosque has held a Jewish festival in Brondesbury Park in an unprecedented interfaith gathering to bring their communities together.
Members of the The Al-Khoie Foundation in Chevening Road, Queen’s Park, teamed up with Brondesbury Park United Synagogue in Brondesbury Park, to host their Sukkah, a ‘booth’ used to commemorate the Jewish exodus from Egypt during the festival of Sukkot.
Hundreds turned up to the breakfast on Sunday, the end of a week long series of events which began with the construction of the tent like structure next to the Mosque walls and included classes in Hebrew and Arabic.
Rabbi Baruch Levine, Rabbi of the Brondesbury Park Synagogue, said: “The Sukkah invites us to reflect on the importance of the structures we build in our lives, both physical and perhaps more importantly, the interpersonal and intercommunal structures which underpin a civil society. This makes Sukkot an ideal time to strengthen ties with our neighbouring communities.”
Mustafa Field, director of Faiths Forum for London (FFL), which organised the event said: “We have a shared commonality but we don’t often talk about it.
“We thought why not encourage Jewish people to come along and encourage our congregation to come along and have a shared experience, eating at the Sukkah, sharing food, have conversations and get to know our different ways.”
He added: “There’s a perceived image that our communities are at each others ends with the conflict in Palestine. Clearly we have different views but that seems to be the main focus when people think of Jewish/Muslim relations. Actually it’s much deeper. There are a lot of personal friendships. We want people to realise how strong our relationships are.”
“Free-floating” Rabbi Natan Levy of FFL, added: “As far as I’m aware this is the only time this has happened in the UK, it seems to be quite unprecedented, even globally.
“The mosque and synagogue in Brondesbury have visited each other’s places of worship, had high level conversations and are looking now to do transformative work which opens the doors to each other.”
He added: “In a post Brexit kind of world where hate crime’s on the rise in both these communities it’s become imperative that they are really able to support each other.
“The Sukkah makes a visual impact, it is a booth with no doors, it remains open, it’s a pop up place of hope and tolerance. It symbolises the fact we’re not closed we’re open, we’re all underneath God’s protection.”
He said the Muslim, Jewish and local community came out the week before to build the Sukkah which stood up for two days before the wind blew it over.
He said: “That’s what Sukkah’s about, it’s a fragile structure. The whole point of it is to recognise how fragile things are in this world. The Mosque decided themselves at some point to rebuild it. It’s been sitting there and people have been visiting, asking a lot of questions, it’s opened dialogue.”