July 18, 2013
The sun has almost set on another long summer’s day and for many Muslims, this signifies the end of another daylong Ramadan fast. Rifat is hungry – he hasn’t eaten since way too early this morning, but despite the uneasy feeling in his stomach, he’s made the nearly two-hour long trip from Akko to Jaffa to take part in a very special Iftar meal. A participant in the Citizens’ Accord Forum’s Youth Parliament Program, Rifat is a student leader, who along with 20 of his schoolmates, has spend the last year building bridges between Arab and Jewish student in his hometown of Akko. He surveys the room. Skewers of delicious meat are being passed around from table to table; it’s almost time to eat. Minute late a sheikh takes the podium to give the traditional breaking of the fast prayer.
“Allah Akbar! It is for thee that I observe fast and it is with Thine blessing that I break it”.
For many participants of the Youth Parliament, the festive meal held in Jaffa’s Arab Jewish Community Center was also the first time that either group had the opportunity to attend a religious gathering outside of their own faith. That’s part of the group’s charm says, Tamar, a Jewish student from Tel Aviv’s Youth Parliament. “The Arab students that we work with live just a short distance from us, and I enjoy learning about how their culture and traditions vary from my own. More often than not, I find that that there are more similarities than differences”.
Youth Parliament students were not the only honored guests to attend this special community gathering. The community wide event featured special guests including: Tel Aviv’s Mayor Ron Huldai, embassy officials from various counties, and religious representatives from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith.
To learn more about CAF’s Youth Parliament, click here.
The Youth Parliament of the Mixed Cities of Israel is made possible thanks to a generous donation from USAID.
Reprinted from Citizens Accord Forum Between Arabs and Jews in Israel