Houston (RNS) — More than a dozen years ago, Shariq Abdul Ghani, a local Muslim leader, and Rabbi Steve Gross, of the Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, decided to make the best of one of the most uneventful days of the whole year for their respective communities. Their goal was simple — to bring together their communities for what became known as “Muslim-Jewish Christmas.”“I realized they have nothing to do on Christmas,” Ghani told Religion News Service in a recent interview. “We realized we have nothing to do on Christmas, so why don’t we just get our communities together and see what happens,” he said.
The event has grown into an annual ritual, as each Christmas Eve, Muslims and Jews share meals and have difficult conversations about religiously motivated hate, interfaith solidarity, mercy and forgiveness in the Holy Scriptures and contentious topics in interfaith work, including the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
“Every year we switch between a mosque and synagogue, and one year we rented out the Museum of Natural Science. Everyone is off, so you have no excuse, so it’s easy to pack the house.”
That same year, 2010, Ghani, who was born in Pakistan and raised in Houston, founded the Minaret Foundation to raise awareness of …