On June 14, 2016, Pacifica Institute Orange County branch hosted its annual Interfaith Ramadan Iftar dinner. The event brought together religious and faith leaders as well as interfaith community members.
The evening started with Naima Cassandra Arslan, the secretary of the board, reading of the Pacifica statement on the recent Orlando shooting. Following the statement, Rev. Peggy Price, the Minister Emeritus of Seal Beach Center for Spiritual Living was called up to the podium to lead a prayer in remembrance of the victims of the tragedy and also to bless the evening of people coming together to share a Ramadan meal.
Rusty Kennedy, the CEO of O.C. Human Relations, was the keynote speaker of the evening. He started his speech by thanking Pacifica Institute for the efforts put forth in bringing diverse communities together over Ramadan iftar dinners. He also shared his condolences to the Orlando victims.
Among his inspiring words were;
“Here are we again fearing for the safety of one of our community members targeted by hate.
Here are we again hoping and praying this will be the last one.
Here are we again to show our love and support.
We are also here again gathering together.
We are here to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity.
We are here again embracing strangers standing next to us.
We are also here again to say that we can not and will not accept that hate is stronger than love.
And we will be here tomorrow too.”
Following Kennedy’s speech, the MC, Mrs. Arslan, spoke a little about her multi-faith background and continued with basic information about Islam and some of the physical, spiritual and communal benefits of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
As the time for breaking the fast drew closer, the guests enjoyed a video which further explained the significance of Ramadan for Muslims worldwide, ending with the Muslim call to prayer, signaling to all those fasting and not that it was finally time to eat.
Lane Calvert, the President of Newport Mesa Irvine Interfaith Council and Don Garrick, the member of the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council were gracious in sharing their closing remarks.
Melik Sayin, an active member of the community, treated the guests to a demonstration of Turkish calligraphy.
As the evening came to a close, guests enjoyed tea and desserts as they continued with their conversations and made arrangements to keep in touch. It was a beautiful evening filled with joy and hopefully resulted with many new friendships being formed.