Faiths Divided Find Unity In the South Bay

May 3, 2009

Author: Melissa Pamer


Ester Hacken has come to consider herself part of Amir Fazalbhoy's family during the past decade, which saw the blossoming of their friendship.

Despite many occasions on which they've broken bread and shared holidays, there always remained one thorny issue dividing them: religion.

On Sunday, Hacken, an observant Jew, and Fazalbhoy, a practicing Muslim, sought to bridge that gap.

They sat side by side in a Carson mosque - Hacken's first time in a Muslim place of worship since a trip as a tourist to visit the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

"He's very mindful and I'm very mindful not to hurt each other. We know there are extreme points of view," Hacken said.

The two friends were among more than 70 members of the International Institute of Tolerance, a two-year-old mosque and interfaith center, and Congregation Beth Torah, a Torrance synagogue.

The congregations came together for what their respective leaders hope is the first of many interfaith events. They met on a weekend that saw the first deaths - two Palestinians killed by Israeli warplanes in the Gaza Strip - in two months in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

See also: Interfaith