Arriving with smiles and brightly coloured flowers, Imam Mohamed Jebara, founder of the Cordova Spiritual Education Centre, entered the lobby of the Beth Shalom Synagogue with members of the Muslim community.
They offered the flowers to their new Jewish acquaintances as Cantor Daniel Benlolo welcomed the group.
and I want to make sure that we teach our young people," said Benlolo.
"If we teach young people how to interact with, understand and appreciate each other's communities, then we can hopefully build better communication and better understanding to live in harmony and in peace."
, who was unable to speak due to laryngitis, nodded as Benlolo said the purpose of the gift exchange was to promote learning between the two communities.
Benlolo then presented Jebara
with a shofar, which he
described as a symbol of Abraham's sacrifice to God.
also received a menorah, a Kiddush cup and a book of the history of the Beth Shalom Synagogue
In return, Jebara
gave Benlolo a carved wooden Qur'an holder, a hand-sewn prayer rug from Syria, handmade calligraphy of the Muslim declaration of faith, books teaching Arabic from the Cordova Academy
, three Qur'ans and a long blue string of prayer beads.
hopes the event at the synagogue would be the first of many between the Jewish and Muslim communities in Ottawa.
"There are many interfaith dialogues, but they don't go any further than meeting and discussing issues," he
"Our intention is to go beyond that.
We would like to establish friendships that are long term."
said that building friendships with other faiths would lead to understanding, harmony and love between the different religious groups.