Nashville rabbi offers Murfreesboro mosque trip invite on Yom Kippur

The rabbi of Nashville's largest and longest-practicing synagogue used the most holy night of the Jewish year to invite his congregation on an unusual trip.

Going to the beleaguered mosque in Murfreesboro, he told them Friday, is part of Yom Kippur's call to introspection.

"It's the day that we look into our most honest selves and we have to wrestle with ourselves — not just to do what is the easy or comfortable thing — but that which is courageous and filled with strength of conscience," said Rabbi Mark Schiftan of The Temple-Congregation Ohabai Sholom.

The congregation will load up on buses Oct. 27 and travel to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro for food and conversation, Schiftan said Saturday. While Jews and Muslims are often in conflict overseas, they're both religious minorities in the U.S. The meeting gives both congregations the opportunity to ask questions and affirm their appreciation of the First Amendment right to practice their religions.

While Muslims have been meeting in Murfreesboro for decades, their newly opened mosque faced a number of tribulations, from burning of equipment on the construction site to a legal effort to prevent the building's use.

A lunch and question-and-answer session at The Temple earlier this year lead to the invitation, with Imam Ossama Bahloul traveling to the Belle Meade-area synagogue.

Bahloul said it's not unusual for his mosque to host curious congregations from other religions. He keeps the focus on common roots and themes in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions.

"I understand the conflict in some places, but if we can give each other a chance to get rid of the stereotypes, we will come to realize we share so many things, and we are all brothers and sisters from Adam and Eve," he said.


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