Religion Briefs

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Interfaith program observes anniversary

Project Dana, an interfaith mission to assist frail and elderly people, is celebrating its 15th anniversary today with a program honoring its volunteers.

The clergy and members of 20 Oahu faith communities were expected to participate in an interfaith service this morning at Fort DeRussy Hall, followed by a luncheon program at Hale Koa Hotel. Mary Bitterman, president of the Bernard Osher Foundation in San Francisco and a Project Dana board member, will be keynote speaker.

Dr. Shimeji Kanazawa first organized the program at Moiliili Hongwanji Mission in 1989, with a mission to provide companionship and assistance services for elderly members.

It has grown to include 30 Buddhist temples and Christian churches whose volunteers make home visits, provide transportation and offer respite for family caregivers.

About 700 volunteers statewide are currently involved in the project, which is now serving more than 900 people.

Keiji Kukino of Kailua, Jean Komemaka of Honolulu and Elaine Sugai of Hilo will speak on behalf of the volunteers.

Picnic celebrates the end of Ramadan

Hawaii Muslims are celebrating one of the two major holidays of Islam tomorrow with an all-day picnic at Kapiolani Park, and the public is invited.

Eid ul Fitr -- the festival of fast-breaking -- comes after "the spiritual boot camp of Ramadan," said Hakim Ouansafi, president of the Muslim Association of Hawaii. "When we finish the month of fasting, it is like getting your certificate after a year of school."

Bouncers and slides will be set up for children at the site across from the Waikiki Aquarium for the event, which goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"We invite people to come and meet the Muslim families in Hawaii," Ouansafi said.

Members will be on hand to answer questions, and brochures about Islam will be available.

About 1,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which begins with a 9 a.m. prayer. "We thank God for giving us the health and strength for fasting and the compassion to share," he said. Besides abstaining from food and drink from dawn to dusk, Muslims give to charity during Ramadan. Donations from the local Muslim Association will go to agencies helping 5,000 orphans in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, he said.

The timing of the festival wasn't decided until last night. Although yesterday was the new moon on the lunar calendar, Muslims must actually see the crescent before marking the end of Ramadan.

Middle East relations the focus of lecture

A Palestinian Christian educator from Jerusalem will speak next week in Honolulu about Christian-Jewish-Muslim relationships in the Middle East.

Samia Nasir Khoury, former president of the YWCA of Palestine and Jordan, will speak at the 7 p.m. Tuesday meeting of Friends of Sabeel at the Friends Meeting House, 2426 Oahu Ave. The talk is open to the public.

Khoury has spoken before United Nations forums for nongovernmental organizations in New York and in Athens. She retired last year after 17 years as president of a coed elementary school for low-income families in East Jerusalem.

She is on the board of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, an interfaith effort seeking justice for Palestinians which the local group was organized to support.

A 6 p.m. potluck dinner will precede her talk. For information, call the Honolulu Friends Center at 988-2714.

Khoury will also be at the University of Hawaii Campus Center on Monday. She will be at the Friends of Sabeel table at a "Festival of Resistance" from noon to 2 p.m. The event, from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., is sponsored by Not in Our Name.

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