June 30th, 2015, Buffalo City Hall, Buffalo, NY.
Turkish Cultural Center Buffalo (TCCB) and Peace Islands Institute (PII) organized the Fourth Annual Interfaith Ramadan Iftar Dinner at the City Hall on June 30th. The event hosted a diverse group of community leaders such as Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, NFTA Chief of Police George Gast, Niagara University Provost Timothy Downs, Town of Tanowanda’s Supervisor Anthony F. Caruana, Town of Grand Island’s Supervisor Mary Cooke as well as representatives from Ahiskan Turkish community from Russia, Bosnian, Somalian, Burmese and Iraqi communities. The event was also well-attended by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim community leaders.
The event started with a Qur’an Recitation by Imam Ismet Akcin of Islamic Center of Rochester followed by a video presentation on the meaning of the month of Ramadan.
The event featured three speakers who shared their remarks on the theme of “Fast and Feast.” Yahya Ozyardimci, who represented PII, highlighted the importance of gratefulness and gratitude, which are cultivated thanks to fasting. He said that “Among all the benefits of fasting during the Ramadan, there is one that is significantly important: That is remembering to be thankful.” Mr. Ozyardimci added that “most of the time we forget that we need the whole ecosystem and universe and we need them to work in a perfect harmony to bite one sweet apple. The true giver of bounties is definitely deserving more thanks.”
Dr. Irwin Gelman of Congregation Beth Abraham approached the theme from Jewish perspective. In his talk, Dr. Gelman discussed the varieties of fasting in the Jewish tradition. He also shared his personal experience of fasting. The final speaker was Dennis Walczyk from Catholic Charities. Mr. Walczyk started and ended his talk with William Arthur Ward’s “Feast and Fast” which is a reflective poem. He also pointed to how Islam and Christianity have so much in common as exemplified in the practice of fasting. He ended with a quote on how Muslims and Christians need each other and that Christians have things to learn from Muslims and Muslims could benefit from the Christians.
The event ended with reflections by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who emphasized the brotherhood of all humanity with. Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana expressed his appreciation of the hard and diligent work of Turkish Cultural Center Buffalo to promote dialog, peace, and reciprocal understanding. Supervisor Caurana presented the Certificate of Appreciation to the representative of Turkish Cultural Center Buffalo.