June 15, 2016, Weehawken, N.J. – Faith, unity and understanding brought people of different cultural backgrounds together for Turkish Cultural Center New Jersey’s (TCC-NJ) Annual Intercultural Ramadan Friendship Dinner.
TCC-NJ welcomed 200 guests and dignitaries to the annual iftar dinner at Chart House in Weehawken, N.J. Before the dinner began, guests had a chance to mingle and enjoy the work of a Turkish Calligrapher, who made party favors with guests’ names. Guests were also greeted by an informative video presentation about Ramadan, a call to prayer and several distinguished speakers.
Weehwaken, N.J. Mayor Richard Turner and Deputy Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security, Steven Gutkin were among those to make remarks at the dinner. Retired New Jersey Fire Chief, Michael Scardino spoke of being inspired by a Muslim youth he observed fasting and had to decided to fast as well. The keynote speaker, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Paul J. Fishman made remarks about the recent Orlando shooting that left 49 dead and said that he did not believe the incident reflected the beliefs of Islam. Fishman went on to talk about an encounter with his son where he declared he would attend the TCC-NJ iftar to show solidarity with Muslims.
TCC-NJ Executive Director Yavuz Aydin was touched by the speech that Fishman gave and felt it was a refreshing message despite the negative news coverage around the Islamic faith.
“When I hear that I feel very happy,” says Aydin. “[Hearing] the [remarks]by the attorney general makes [me]feel more comfortable more respected.
Once the fast was broken, guests enjoyed traditional Turkish food and Turkish music, followed by more remarks from distinguished guest.
“Ramadan is a holy month and we just bring people from different backgrounds [and]religions so we may [share]our plates [and]common values,” says Aydin. “As a [people]we are together [and]we respect each other.”