Community leaders hold first Iftar in Bay Ridge

With Bay Ridge’s large Muslim population in focus, a group of elected officials and civic leaders hosted the first community Ramadan Iftar on Saturday, May 11 at Owl’s Head Park.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Councilmember Justin Brannan and a representative for U.S. Rep. Max Rose helped welcome guests to the Muslim observance, which began with a solemn prayer in the park for all the observant men in attendance.

Ramadan commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammed according to Islamic belief. While observing Muslims abstain from eating or drinking during the day, the Iftar meal ends their Ramadan fast at sunset. Saturday’s event included evening prayers and a feast at Owl’s Head Park for all to enjoy.

This marks the first time elected officials in southern Brooklyn have hosted an event to break the fast during the month of Ramadan.

“The month of Ramadan is for spiritual reflection, but also time to be grateful for what we have,” said Gounardes. “It is a reminder that so many people around our city, country, and world do not get the luxury of going to bed with a full stomach.”

“Hosting the first community-driven Iftar, alongside my colleagues in government, was a way to bring people together and showcase the diversity and spirit of community,” added Gounardes.

Brannan called the event historic.

“Celebrating Ramadan in Owl’s Head Park was a true only-in-Bay Ridge experience,” said Brannan. “Beyond the amazing food that was graciously donated, the best part of the night was so many friends and neighbors coming together as one. That’s what this community is all about. I believe this will be the start of another great local tradition.”

In the spirit of Ramadan, small businesses contributed to the feast. Participating businesses included Balady, Yemen Café, Cedars Pasty Ice-Cream, Antepli, Hazar Turkish Kabab, Al Shaiban, Dixy Chicken, Bay Ridge Pizza, Sinbad, Al Basha Express, Rocco’s Pizza, Istanbul Café, 80th Street Grocery, Bay Ridge Diner, Le Saji, Ruzana Middle Eastern Restaurant, Burger IM, Bay Root Market, Cocoa Grinder, Mike’s Donut, Foodtown and Tanoreen.

“Coming together as a community for Iftar to break the fast during Ramadan is a special tradition that I’m glad to see so many celebrate,” said Rose. “I appreciate the leadership of Senator Gounardes and Councilman Brannan in bringing us all together for events like this to rejoice and remind us of our shared values.”

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