NSW Premier The Hon Barry O'Farrel MP hosted an "Iftar Dinner to celebrate Interfaith Harmony" at Parliament House on Thursday 26 July.
The Premier invited communal Leaders of all faiths to join local Muslim Leadership at the Dinner, which is held annually during the month of Ramadan.
The event was conducted in a spirit of respect between all faiths, with prayers being offered by Sheikh Yahya Safi, Imam of Lakemba Mosque, followed by Sister Giovanni Farquer from the Commission for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Catholic Church. Sheikh Safi mentioned in his prayer that Islam recognises the holiness of a number of great luminaries of the Jewish faith including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as Moses, Solomon and David.
Grand Mufti of Australia His Eminence Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed addressed the crowd and spoke about the physiological similarities of all humans, created by the one G-d, and how tolerance and peaceful coexistence can only occur when we are open to appreciating the goodness found within every person; regardless of race, religion, colour or creed.
In his remarks, The Premier referred to the fact that 40% of Sydney's population were born overseas, paying tribute to the immense contribution that people from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds have made to Australian Society. The Premier stated that, "in my belief, our greatest resource is not the mineral wealth underground but rather the walking diamonds and immense talent of our citizens. I take pride in the fact that with hard work and creativity anyone can succeed in this country, notwithstanding one's background or the size of one's bank account."
The Premier also focused on the importance of Education as "not just the key to economic success, but indeed the key to greater understanding and respect between different faith communities."
The three course Dinner was catered by Parliament House under Halal supervision, with a Kosher option provided by The Yeshiva Centre's "Our Big Kitchen".
Jewish Leaders in attendance included Rabbi Eli Feldman from The Yeshiva Centre - Chabad NSW HQ, Mr David Knoll, Mr Jeremy Spinak and Mr Vic Alhadeff from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Mr Jeremy Jones from AIJAC and Mr Richard Balkin from the Zionist Council of NSW.