E. Texans from two religions share the message of unity through food offerings

TYLER, TX (KLTV) – For several years now, the East Texas Islamic Society in Tyler has brought food to help the Jewish community celebrate their new year.

This year, The Congregation Beth El decided to repay the favor, bringing food to help the East Texas Islamic Society celebrate the end of Ramadan, their holy month.

Anwar Khalifa with the East Texas Islamic Society and Rabbi Neal Katz with Congregation Beth El may be of different faiths, but they’re together in the message they’re trying to spread, along with some plates of food.

“My sister said ‘hey, you know during Rosh Hashanah, the thing you do is you take your Jewish friends apples and honey and wish them a sweet new year.’ I’m like ‘I’m gonna so do it,'” says Khalifa.

Khalifa says he then decided to start a tradition.

“So I went and got apples and honey and I came to Neal at his office and gave him the apples and honey and wished him a sweet new year,” says Khalifa.

Wednesday, Neal Katz decided to switch it up and send food to the East Texas Islamic Society.

“I’ve always felt bad that we haven’t returned the favor but this year it just worked out. We put a little note on there that said “Eid Mubarak Shalom Salaam, happy Ramadan,” and it was just some food, just to let them know their friends from the Jewish community are happy that they’re celebrating. We wish them joy and peace,” says Katz.

They’ll tell you it’s a small gesture to bring to each other’s celebrations, but one that can go a long way.

“People who are ignorant, who write stuff on social media, Anwar responds by taking them out to lunch, and so that can only happen so many times. We need a thousand people doing that all the time,” says Katz.

“All religions preach that we’re all here to worship God almighty and how do we worship God almighty? By taking care of our fellow man, not hurting our fellow man, by watching out for our neighbors, by wanting for others what we want for ourselves. So if we forget all about the minutia in religion and concentrate on why God put us here, the world would be a whole lot better place,” says Khalifa.

Neal Katz and Anwar Khalifa say they are hoping to continue the tradition for many years to come.
They say they have several events coming up together that will help them speak directly to the community about coming together.


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