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Celebrating Passover at a Mosque

ROSTAS 1:This is Uptown Radio. I’m Daniel Rostas. We’re all searching for something.

It could be a new job, it could be a little bit of peace and quiet… it could be a new way to connect with other people.

E: I’m Muslim by background but for me, antisemitism is not acceptable at all. and I wanted to do something against antisemitism and islamophobia.

ROSTAS 2: That’s Nabil (NABEEL) Ezzarhouni. He says he’s looking for a new way to fight discrimination here in New York.

I wanted to have a positive answer, something much more constructive than basically just responding to hate or responding to racisms.

ROSTAS 3: And he says there’s a reason he’s so preoccupied with this issue.

E: I grew up in a very poor area, where there a lot of immigrants from North Africa, and Muslim immigrants and other immigrants –

ROSTAS 4: He grew up in France – he says it’s a very multicultural society, but it’s easy to get stuck in your own enclaves, and not meet other cultures… specifically…

E… when I was living there until I was a teenager, I didn’t interact with Jews.

ROSTAS 5: I basically grew up … only around Jews, so I get where he’s coming from, but from the other side. But that’s why I was pretty surprised when I heard what he’s doing now.-

E: So, yes, we decided to celebrate Passover in a mosque. It’s not just about Jews and Muslims, but we want to address people who are very curious about Judaism or Islam.

ROSTAS 6: Passover – the Jewish holiday that starts tonight. (They’re celebrating it a little early.) Definitely not the kind of thing I’ve ever thought of as happening in a mosque…. But a rabbi, an imam and over a hundred guests gathered and celebrated the Israelites leaving slavery in Egypt – just like a Muslim holiday called Ashura. But at its core … this Passover in a mosque was like any other celebration – people connecting, getting to know each other, enjoying some good food and good conversation.

E: They were very emotional, it was very positive moment. And I had a lot of people – because I was running around asking people about the food, about how they were (welcome) – and they were so pleased to have something positive about Jews and Muslims that we can share so that it was a unique experience. I’m personally moved when I talk about it (laughs).

ROSTAS 7: Now he organizes events like this every few months with the NYC Muslim Jewish Solidarity Committee.

ROSTAS: Why would you want to get involved with a group like this?

E: I just want to appreciate diversity and make sure that people are talking to each other, because if Jews and Muslims are able to go beyond this negative narrative, beyond that political agenda, and trying to go beyond that… I think will be a good step – not only for Jews and Muslims, for New York City but for the whole world.

ROSTAS 8: I found out about the event because… I was looking for something to do on Passover! And although I couldn’t make it… I thought this was such an interesting idea for a group… People searching for a way to escape from the accepted narrative. A way to connect with each other as humans and ignore labels….  

Their next major event? Ramadan in a Synagogue.

Ezzarhouni and those who come to these events are just some of the many people living in New York who are searching for something… As we all are.

And today on Uptown Radio, we’ll be discussing some of their stories. I’m Daniel Rostas.


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