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Cape Town’s Muslims and Jews pray together




“This world seems soaked with religious hatred and violence, and cries out for new direction and leadership,” said the shul’s rabbi and chairman of the SA Association of Progressive Rabbis (SAAPR) Rabbi Greg Alexander. The Progressive Movement seeks to partner with open-minded religious groups to sow the seeds of interfaith co-operation. 

Muslims are currently commemorating Ramadan and every evening at sunset they break their day-long fast on dates, water and prayer. They then have a celebratory meal.

This Ramadan, in a first of its kind in Cape Town, “Temple Israel invited a group of Muslims with Imam Dr Taj Hargey (leader of the Open Mosque in Wynberg) to break their fasts with us and to share our Friday night Shabbat service and dinner,” said Rabbi Alexander.

The guests joined the congregation for the Friday night Shabbat services and the congregation of Wynberg shul responded in droves. More than 200 members welcomed the group of 30 Muslims along with interfaith friends and members of the media. The story was featured in Cape Town’s Weekend Argus on Saturday and Monday morning’s Cape Times.

Story continues after picture…

Iftar Wynberg 24 June16

ABOVE: Imam Hargay and his fellow-guests broke their fast on dates and tea and then prayed their evening Maghrib prayers in the shul on rugs placed there for them.

They then joined the Temple Israel congregants for Kabbalat Shabbat and then together broke bread and ate a Friday night dinner.

Rabbi Alexander and Dr Hargay addressed the gathering on topics such as building bridges instead of hatred and shared sources from the Qur’an and Torah that spoke about interfaith respect. 

Iftar logo of Temple Israel CT“Many people from fear or prejudice told us not to go ahead with this event,” Rabbi Álexander told Jewish Report after Shabbos. However, he said: “We saw that coming together to share food and prayer was an appropriate response to the bitterness of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”

Jews and Muslims in Cape Town live together, work together and their children go to school together.

“Why should they not pray and eat together?” asked Rabbi Alexander.

The shul led Birkat Hamazon and the Muslims responded with a prayer of thankfulness.

Imam Hargey, leader of the Open Mosque in Wynberg who led the prayer, said the initiative aimed to foster interfaith dialogue.

“This sends a powerful message of solidarity and mutual respect worldwide,” said Hargey after the service. “Cape Town has made history.”

One of the Muslim attendees, Naeem Ahmed, said he was “always interested in other religions”. A colleague of his wife had invited her to the shul. “I’m not going against my religion by coming here,” he told The Argus. “We need more interfaith efforts. This is how we can resolve issues, not by dropping bombs.”

One in every five Jews in Cape Town is Progressive, says the SAUPJ. “This was a pioneering experience because of all the issues and conflicts.”

David Lipschitz, a member of Temple Israel, said Jews were meant to “welcome strangers” into their temples. “I’m from Cape Town and it’s the first time I’ve prayed with Muslims,” he said.

Temple Israel, says Alexander, hopes that this is the first of many such events to come. 

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  1. yitzchak

    Jun 28, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    ‘I take it the muslims were facing Jerusalem as they prayed.

    Next time you can go and pray in their mosque and break Tzom Gedalia in their place.

    Better take a mashgiach with you.’

  2. yitzchak

    Jun 29, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    ‘Next thing the reform will do is put crosses on the 

    bimah. Enough of this nonsense, you are selling out just so you can get articles written about you in the Cape Times. Next thing you’ll be keeping Ramadan instead not yom kippur…. inviting terrorism into our homes ‘

  3. Marc Lipshitz

    Jun 30, 2016 at 11:25 am

    ‘so reform discards more and more of the Torah and then invites others into their shuls…  What a pity they don’t invite the Torahin like they do Muslims!’

  4. Gary

    Jun 30, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    ‘I WILL NOT have any positive interaction with ANYONE who does not recognize The State of Israel
    \nby the way Rabbi Greg Alexander [Sorry, user, but you can’t make unsupported allegation like that without evidence or putting your verifiable name to it  -MODERATOR]

  5. Apikoires

    Jun 30, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    ‘SAJR editor, clearly yitzchak’s comment has bypassed your usually vigilant scrutiny. Muslims breaking their fast in a shul, should not be presented as a prelude to \”inviting terrorism into our homes\”. Comments like these are inappropriate, and undo the progress of laudable initiatives, such as the one described in your article.’

  6. Liebah

    Jun 30, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    ‘What a ridiculous comment, Yitzchak! What the world needs is Interfaith dialogue, tolerance and understanding of one another’s religions.

    Your comment about terrorism shows your intolerance and Islamophobia.  ‘

  7. Ant Katz

    Jul 1, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Apikoires – This is an opinion and, as you obviously know, Jewish religious opinions differ widely. This is a platform where such differeces are able to be discussed without fear or favour.  -Ant Katz, online editor

  8. Anthony Lange

    Jul 1, 2016 at 9:01 am

    ‘Id say ‘R’ Greg is in good company… It reads like a girls school.

    other Leo Baeck’s other alumni are:

    Rabbi Pauline Bebe

    Rabbi Barbara Borts;

    Rabbi Baroness Neuberger;

    Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah;

    Rabbi Dr Drorah Setel

    Rabbi Sybil Sheridan;

    Rabbi Jackie Tabick,

    Rabbi Alexandra Wright….

    So, host muslims in YOUR ‘temple’ – Go Right Ahead.

    At least we know where NO TO GO!’

  9. Apikoires

    Jul 1, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    ‘Thank you Ant, I am of course aware of the divergent religious opinions, and I am happy for them to be openly discussed. Yitzchak’s religious opinion is understood and accepted. Allowing worship by members of other faiths in our shuls, will understandably elicit differences in religious opinion. His comment about \”inviting terrorism into our homes\” can hardly be construed in the context of religious opinion.  ‘

  10. yitzchk

    Jul 1, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    ‘Two different yitzchaks here.’

  11. Dion Futerman

    Jul 4, 2016 at 9:02 am

    ‘Accompanied by 72 virgins ? Next ? An idol of a virgin hanging on the wall ??? ‘

  12. Tish

    Jul 4, 2016 at 10:13 am

    ‘Yitzchak, it is obvioust that you are not well informed about matters of the world or you would not call Muslims terrorists.  Half the world and growing by leaps and bounds know what is really going on.  Educate yourself and get up to speed, unless you really do not want to know the truth.   In SA we are still building relationships and it is not easy.  Together we live in harmony, divided we fall apart.  Find the peace first with yourself, then it will come with all others.  Your ugly side shows your lack of religious compassion.’

  13. nat cheiman

    Jul 5, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    ‘Nu!!! Reform is reform. Orthodox is orthodox and neither the twain agree.

    However, apropos Muslims. I see no real reason for Jews to worship in a mosque nor any reason for a Muslim to pray in a shul, reform or orthodox. I am not for or against it, but the reasons for prayer relate to worship. Muslims worship Mohamed and Jews pray to Hashem. Jews do not kneel nor do they have prayer rugs. We can go on and on about the differences.

    Harmony can be achieved by movie evenings and braais etc. So can relationships be built that way.

    Its not about terrorism, although radical islamists have been spawned from mosques and islam. Moreover, on this specific point, how does anyone know who the terrorists are? If terrorists were recognisable, then they would be caught before doing the act of terror.

    We, as Jews, need to be mindful, and indeed cautious about potential threats of terror, and whilst it is admirable ( and plausible) to educate ourselves toward a harmonious relationship with ALL races and religions, it would be injudicious to allow an unsecured state of affairs to exist, lest a bad situation occurs.

  14. nat cheiman

    Jul 11, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    ‘My comment dated 5 July refers.

    My warning has manifested itself ( almost).

    These 2 alleged terrorists could have davened in shul if it were not for the Hawks sharp eye.

    We have been warned.’

  15. Choni

    Jul 12, 2016 at 11:48 am

    ‘A reply to Ant. Katz. Ant , You once stated that you were brought up to believe that nobody should question our Torah. I agree 100%. If you truly believe this , and I’m sure you do, then any opinion not based on Torah is worthless, and should never be expressed in a Jewish forum.


    \nSure, Choni, but you should also reckon-in that if you only counted Jews by their interpretation of Torah being exactly the same as yours, you will not have enough of your-called Jewry in the world to sustain a country, a currency, a language, culture, etc. that is today such a sustainable force in both Israel and the diaspora.
    \nI’d like to think the reason we have out-endured all rival cultures over the millennia has been our willingness to accept and tolerate fellows of the Hebrew line who don’t interpret the Torah as do Choni-cloned Jews.
    \nLord Sacks once told me in an interview that Jewry in the UK and Commonwealth, a flock over whom he presided, had the maturity and ability to understand the difference between religion and culture. In matters of religion, the various schools of thought differentiate between each other. But at cultural events, all of Hebrew stock become one – ensuring the stability and sustainability of the community.
    \nNone of us today interpret the Torah in the same way our great grandparents did. None of us. Mostly, we have become more pious, more observant. We have created ways to be able to meet our exact interpretation of Torah, They took the Torah and the Hebrew people for granted. We have learned that we have to risk death, to lose loved ones, if we are going to preserve ourselves and meet Hashem’s expectations of us.
    \nEnjoy your faith. But learn to share in the joy of having so many of Hebrew descent to stand together. To stand proud. And to ensure the sustainability of your people.
    \nFor all of Hebrew descent are YOUR people. And you dare not disown them,
    \nANT KATZ.   



  16. Choni

    Jul 13, 2016 at 7:57 am

    ‘Ant, Bottom line is by your remarks you are definitely ‘questioning’ the Torah. Not my interpretation, but the interpretation of our Holy books by our sages past and present (excluding of course those of non-orthodox persuasion) Also Ant, none of my remarks or opinions are based on my own very limited understanding of the Torah-written and oral- They are always based on a Torah which I never question. Anyone whose opinions are not based on Torah, those opinions will never endure.


    Fair enough. But you, personally, have for many years been running a campaign against a very large Orthodox ‘sect’ – one of the world’s largest – due to their differing interpretation of the Torah. Some of the Breslov sects, too, you differ with. There are many Orthodox schools of thought – mostly as they have (usually, slightly) differing interpretations.


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