GW’s Muslim and Jewish communities came together Thursday night for Iftar, a daily breaking of the fast for Muslims during their holy month of Ramadan.
University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg gave remarks in front of more than 300 attendees at the fifth annual interfaith dinner in the Marvin Center. The dinner, said Trachtenberg before his speech, is the University’s small contribution toward brotherhood and peace in a world marked by challenging times.
The original idea for the event came after the attacks of Sept. 11 in 2001. Trachtenberg met with several Muslim and Jewish student leaders about hosting an event like this.
“Once you have the idea, it takes on a life of its own,” he said.
“I am proud of many things I have been able to do in nearly 19 years as the president of GW,” Trachtenberg said. “This Iftar is one of them.”
The dinner was co-organized by the Muslim Student Association and Jewish Student Association and co-sponsored by Trachtenberg and Program Board.
Several dignitaries were invited and representatives of the embassies of Tajikistan, Chad and Bosnia-Herzegovnia joined students. Also in attendance were representatives of the Newman Catholic Center.
Before introducing Trachtenberg, the presidents of the MSA and JSA spoke about the importance of the meal. A private caterer served both halaal and kosher food and students recited prayers in both Arabic and Hebrew.
“This is about showing that what goes on in the world doesn’t represent what goes on here (at GW),” said junior Saif Inam, the vice president of the MSA.
Sophomore Ben Balter, publicity vice president of the JSA, said this is one of several interfaith events occurring on campus this fall. The MSA and JSA will co-host a comedy event on Oct. 30 called “Stand-up for Peace,” which will feature both Muslim and Jewish comedians.
Trachtenberg has attended and sponsored the dinner every year since its inception, and he said he plans to continue to attend the event in the future.
He said: “I’m going to be on campus, and I’m going to show up, for many years, I hope.”
Trachtenberg will become President emeritus and a University Professor when he steps down from his current role in July 2007.