The Toronto Star
Muslim Breaks Bread with Jew;
Rosh Hashanah Meal Seen as Way to Build Bridges
By Phinjo Gombu
SEPT 18, 2001
Two Torontonians, a Jew and a Muslim, broke bread last night on one of the
holiest days of the Jewish calendar to ward off what they say are dark days
ahead, full of fear, hatred and revenge.
Trying to come to grips with last week's terrorist attacks in the United
States and its ugly aftermath, where Canadian and American Muslims have
been attacked, Barbara Landau invited Tarek Fatah to Rosh Hashanah dinner
with her family.
"I wanted to reach out to someone in the Muslim
community," said Landau, a member of the Canadian Association of Jews and
Arabs, who has been part of peace missions to the Middle East.
"We have to think about how we can repair our relationships."
Landau said the invitation to Fatah was made through a mutual acquaintance
in the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, a 10-day period of reflection that marks
the beginning of the Jewish New Year. It is a time when Jews reflect on
who they are and seek repentance.
The invitation was gladly accepted by Fatah, a local broadcaster who hosts
a weekly television show on CTS called The Muslim Chronicles. He did not
know Landau before dinner.
Sitting down to squash soup, salmon, couscous, grilled vegetables and honey
cake, Fatah, a strong advocate for the rights of Palestinians in the Middle
East, said he was "overwhelmed" at the gesture.
"It's the thought behind it," Fatah said. "In this crisis, where we see the beginning of
so many attacks on racial minorities, here is a family that makes Canada
what it is today . . . We're all human beings."
"It tells me what could happen if we thought of each other as us," Fatah
said, describing reports of attacks on a Sikh temple in Hamilton.
Sikh men were also killed in Dallas and Phoenix in apparent hate crimes.
In Hamilton, rabbis stepped up security at synagogues and put local police
on high alert.
"We always have a significant amount of security," said Temple Anshe
Sholom's Rabbi Irwin Zeplowitz, who extended his sympathies yesterday to
the president of Hamilton Mosque, the target of vandals and threatening
callers last week, and to the president of Hamilton's Hindu temple, which
was set ablaze by arsonists.
"I think people are generally feeling nervous right now," Zeplowitz said.
Barbara Landau's dinner, with her husband Sy, daughter Niki, son Daryl and
family friend Paul Lampert, began with a moment of silence for the people
who died last week and the ceremonial breaking of the traditional challah
For Niki Landau, 28, the dinner was a way to bring some reason
into a world that is on the verge of getting increasingly
"Considering the hugeness of the event, there is this huge
emptiness inside me," she said.
"This (the dinner invitation) is the only thing to do, meeting one person
who is supposedly from the other side, the stranger, supposedly the enemy."
With files from the Hamilton Spectator.
Copyright © 2001 Toronto Star- All rights reserved.