“Communities Under Siege: Keeping the Faith”
Fourth Break the Fast Event

By Kathy Masaoka

Working with the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple, Centenary Methodist Church, Great Leap and Youth for City Arts, the NCRR 9/11 Committee organized this year’s Break the Fast in Little Tokyo. For the past three years, Senshin Buddhist Temple has hosted this program during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from sun up to sundown to strengthen their beliefs and do good acts. The committee wanted to outreach to the Little Tokyo community, work with both the Buddhist and Christian churches and include the Latino community in nearby Boyle Heights. NCRR believes in the continuing need to build support and understanding with the Muslim community, which has experienced suspicion, detention and attacks on their civil and constitutional rights since September 11, 2001.

Delores Mission Youth Poetry Group
The theme of “Communities Under Siege: Keeping the Faith” and the interfaith panel provided an opportunity to hear the views of Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Native Americans, Catholics and Muslims on the war, civil rights and other issues in their own communities. People gathered at the top of the temple steps to hear Moses Mora offer the Chumash Welcome Song and about 300 people proceeded into the temple to offer incense (oshoko) while the Buddhist ministers chanted. Reverend Noriaki Ito explained the chanting and Edina Lekovic of MPAC shared the purpose of Ramadan. Moderators Lekovic and Kei Nagao (NCRR 9/11) posed questions to the panel which included Reverend Ito, Moses Mora, Reverend Mark Nakagawa of Centenary, Father Michael Kennedy of the Dolores Mission, Rabbi Naomi Levy of Nashuva and Imam Saadiq Saafir of Masjid Ibaadillah (Los Angeles mosque). The Muslim “call to prayer” ended the interfaith discussion and signaled the time to “break the fast” with water, juice and dried fruits.

Rabbi Naomi Levy, Nashuva, Moses Mora, Fr. Michael Kennedy
The intercultural potluck at Centenary gave participants a chance to talk and eat together while enjoying the performance of Chikara taiko, poetry by the Dolores Mission Youth, a Sufi whirling dance by the Avaz Dance Company and a performance piece by Great Leap. The program began with a prayer by Reverend Nakagawa and ended with words “salaam, heiwa, paz, Shalom aleichem” from the Sacred Moon Song, words of wishes and hopes from the participants and finally words of appreciation from Salam AlMarayati, Executive Director of MPAC. AlMarayati, who thanked the Japanese American community for its friendship and activism in the fight for civil rights, concluded his thanks by saying, “we stand on your shoulders.”