c. Shaun Walsh

Interfaith Celebration

April 3, 2024

On March 28, Prospect Park Alliance joined the 67th Precinct Clergy Council, Council of People’s Organization (COPO), the Jewish Community Relations Council, P.A.T.H. Forward, the Mayor’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships for a night of interfaith celebration. The evening was a celebration of community fellowship and discussion in observance of the traditions of Ramadan, Easter, and Passover. 

“Celebrations like this are essential for bringing our communities together to appreciate the richness and diversity of our religious faiths, beliefs, customs and cuisines while enjoying each other’s company. Breaking bread together fosters unity and understanding, allowing us to share our cultures and care for one another. Despite our differences, we all call New York City home, and events like this demonstrate the strength of our unity.” shared Prospect Park Alliance President, Morgan Monaco. Attendees explored the diversity of religious faiths through visual displays and an array of cuisines. Below, civic leaders share how these holiday traditions are observed in Brooklyn and beyond.

Community members enjoying the Interfaith Celebration in March at the Prospect Park Boathouse. c. Shaun Walsh

Eid Al-Fitr, or Eid ul-Fitr (Eid), celebrated this year on Wednesday, April 10, marks the end of the holy fasting period of Ramadan. Eid is celebrated in the Islamic faith with community events and traditions of togetherness throughout the world. Mohammad Razvi, Chief Executive Officer of COPO, shares that “Eid-ul-Fitr is one of the most significant Islamic festivals celebrated by Muslims worldwide. We regard the month of Ramadan as a time of communion, with Eid as a celebration for everyone! Islamic culture is so diverse, and traditions on Eid come from all over the world, making the day even more festive.” 

“The morning of Eid always starts with prayers, after which we turn towards each other and greet our brother/sister by saying Eid Mubarak,” says Razvi. “There is so much in our cultures that encourage community bonding, and Ramadan and Eid always remind us of this.” For those looking to get involved in the celebration, the annual Chaand Raat event is one of the biggest community events in Brooklyn, featuring a variety of stalls with bangles, henna, desi clothing, jewelry, and culturally specific items. For those looking to try Eid feast staples, Razvi shares, “COPO is in the heart of Kensington’s Little Pakistan visit Gourmet Sweets and Restaurant, which serves a variety of dishes tandoori specialties, kebabs and traditional curries, and Pakeeza, which offers a diverse menu of biryanis, kebabs, curries and traditional desserts.

Passover, or Pesach, is an eight day Jewish holiday, which begins on Monday, April 22, and commemorates the exodus of Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. “We read in the Torah about the bitterness of the people’s life as slaves, and the miracles with which God liberated them, including the ten plagues and the splitting of the sea,” shares Daniela Kogan, Program Associate, Center for Shared Society at the Jewish Council for Community Relations. The central Passover ritual is the seder, a meal that tells the history of the holiday through symbols, actions and songs.“The most famous of these steps involves eating matzah, unleavened bread that reminds us of how we left Egypt so quickly that we didn’t even have time for the dough to rise. Traditionally, Jews do not eat and get rid of all their chametz, which is any food that even potentially contains leavened wheat, rye, barley, oats, or spelt during the holiday.” Jewish custom on Passover is to drink four cups of wine throughout the course of the seder, symbolizing various facets of redemption from Egypt, and to leave an additional cup out for the prophet Elijah who will arrive to announce the coming of the messiah. Passover is also called the holiday of spring and, while it follows the lunar calendar, steps are taken to make sure that it will always fall within the season. 

“One of the beautiful parts of living in New York City is the diversity of the Jewish community,” shares Kogan. “Even though the food we eat and the songs we perform may vary, hundreds of thousands of Jews within Brooklyn will be taking time to be grateful for our freedom. While the celebration can take on different forms, the central text of Passover, the haggadah, has been used for centuries, and it provides a strong tie to Jewish ancestors.” 

Easter, which was celebrated on Sunday, March 31, is considered “the most important, solemn and victorious celebration for many in the Christian church,” shares Pastor Everette B. Samuel, Clergy Engagement Director of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council. “The belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a symbol of hope and salvation. For the church, it gives another opportunity to proselytize and serve the community with love and compassion. These sentiments spill over into the entire community. There are secular traditions having to do with bunnies, eggs and the spring season. However, the spiritual implications for this season are beyond the frivolities of tradition. This celebration is the very foundation of Christianity. It is certainly today’s evidence of our future hope. On Easter’s origins, Samuel shares that like the Jews, Christians celebrated “a sacred feast, at which they distributed a paschal lamb in memory of the holy supper.” 

Learn more about the 67th Precinct Clergy Council.