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Monday, 18 Mar 2024

"We need hundreds, thousands of House of One!"

Interreligiöser Iftar - Ramadan Fastenbrechen im House of One
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One: Frank Schwabe, Beauftragter der Bundesregierung für weltweite Religions-und Weltanschauungsfreiheit
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One: Frank Bewig, Bezirksbürgermeister von Berlin-Spandau
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One: Theologin Kübra Dalkilic, Imam Kadir Sanci und Muzzafer Toy, Geschäftsführer des Campus Wilhelmstadtschulen
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One: Muezzinruf von Onur Alka
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One:
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One: Anna-Nicole Heinrich, Präses der Synode der Evangelischen Kirche Deutschland EKD
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One: Maria Lazri und Bünyamin Baykus, das pädagogische Leitungsteam der Wilhelmstadtschulen in Berlin-Spandau
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One: Theologinnen Kübra Dalkilic und Patricia Böckmann erzählen über die Bildungsarbeit des House of One
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One: Blick in den Saal
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One: Rabbiner Andreas Nachama, Pfarrer Gregor Hohberg und Imam Kadir Sanci
Interreligiöser Iftar des House of One: Blick in den Saal

"Breaking the fast of Ramadan together with our Jewish, Christian, believing or non-believing friends shows that, despite all our differences, we are first and foremost human beings." Imam Kadir Sanci said this on the occasion of the traditional interfaith breaking of the fast at the House of One in Berlin with numerous guests from society, politics and business. For the second time, the Wilhelmstadt schools in Berlin-Spandau were our generous hosts.


Standing together despite war in Middle East


The fasting month of Ramadan is a special time for Muslims. "This time is more than just abstaining from food and drink," said Imam Sanci. Ramadan is a time when Muslim traditions are more and more perceived in a positive light. "The invitations to break the fast bring together Muslim and non-Muslim Germans who might not otherwise meet." This is an important social function. "October 7 and the repercussions also in Germany have shown us once again how important it is to come together around a table - especially when it is difficult."

Despite all the cheerfulness, the situation in the Middle East was present at the celebration. Not least because the brutal attack on Israel by Hamas, the suffering of the hostages and the subsequent terrible war with its thousands of deaths and the indescribable suffering of the Palestinians was made a topic in all speeches and prayers.


Eat with each other, talk to each other, listen to each other


Anna-Nicole Heinrich, President of the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), confirmed the imam's words in her welcoming address: "Especially in these times, we need formats that invite people of different religions and bring them together. Tables where people eat together, talk to each other and listen to each other. Sitting at one table: There is a deep symbolism of togetherness, of exchange, of mutual respect, of listening." The war in the Gaza Strip is having an impact on the coexistence of Jewish, Christian and Muslim people also in Germany. "We are feeling tension at all levels, experiencing anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism in an alarming form." Especially now, formats are needed that bring people of different religions together. And role models are needed who set an example of understanding cooperation. "It is impressive what the House of One achieves as an institution and in everyday school life with its multi-faith teams." 

Frank Schwabe, Federal Commissioner for Freedom of Religion and Belief and member of the Board of Trustees of the House of One, talked about experiences from his electoral district Recklinghausen. Muslim communities there had received parcels containing pork and soiled copies of the Koran. At the same time, Jewish students in Berlin no longer dared to go to university, while Palestinian Germans lived in fear for their relatives.


"We need hundreds, thousands of House of One!"


"All of this is taking place in the shadow of this conflict in the Middle East," said Schwabe. "We would actually need hundreds, if not thousands of House of Ones! You are dedicated to the idea of overcoming hatred and division. That's exactly what we need." 

In this context, the mayor of Berlin-Spandau, Frank Bewig, emphasized the importance of intercultural education, which was the key topic of the evening. The Wilhelmstadt schools, with their diverse student and teacher body, are exemplary in this respect. In addition, it is important to work together in a society, said Bewig: "Don't talk about each other, but get to know and understand what makes the other person who they are. That is why it is so important that we create opportunities for encounters, such as this interfaith fast-breaking."

There was a consensus on the importance of intercultural education. But how can it be implemented in everyday school life? What can teachers do when it suddenly becomes difficult to show empathy for people you meet at school every day, as was the case after October 7? The Jewish-Muslim principal team at Wilhelmstadt Schools, Maria Lazri and Bünyamin Baykus, talked about their experience and their pedagogical practices. 


Education by being a role model


When teachers get stuck or simply want to expand their knowledge of religious contexts, they often turn to the House of One education team. Kübra Dalkilic and Patricia Böckmann presented the work of this multi-religious team. In 2023 alone, they came in contact with over 2,000 mostly young people, but also with teachers, trainee teachers and others through the House of One workshops. Here, too, demand has increased significantly since October 7. "We want to break down prejudices with our school visits and workshops. We open up spaces where questions are possible, where we listen, where we learn more about each other," said Patricia Böckmann. And Kübra Dalkilic added: "The simple fact that we are a Jewish-Muslim-Christian team is often already an eye-opener for many people." The fact that Jews and Muslims in particular can act together, even be friends, is sometimes surprising for pupils.


Following these contributions, Pastor Gregor Hohberg, Rabbi Andreas Nachama and Imam Kadir Sanci prayed one after the other, each in their own tradition, for peace and the victims of both sides of the conflict on our continent and in the Middle East. The fast was then broken with the call of the Muezzin Onur Alka - after a slight delay. 

In these challenging times, it was visibly good for all guests to be able to talk to Jewish, Christian, Muslim and many other previously unknown tableside neighbors over a good meal. This evening once again showed those present that dialog, getting to know each other and listening to each other is a first step towards peaceful coexistence. 


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