Visits to places of worship

Visit to St Peter’s Church, Ashley Road , Hale WA15 9SS on

Wednesday May 10th at 7.30 pm.

All are welcome.

Light refreshments will be served.

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Annual Shared Meal on 11th February 2017

 

 

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Altrincham Interfaith Group Interfaith Week event: visit to the Shaare Sedek Synagogue.

Our visit to the new Sephardi synagogue in Hale Barns, Shaare Sedek, was one of the most successful organised by Altrincham Interfaith Group., with over 100 people attending. It was made especially noteworthy by the warm welcome we received from Rabbi Amir Ellituv and his congregation, and the beauty of the new building which had only been open for one month. During the visit, Rabbi Amir described the history of the Sephardi Jews in Manchester and also that of the congregation in Hale Barns which resulted from the merger of two Sephardi congregations in Didsbury. Some features of the synagogue – the three everlasting lights hanging in front of the Ark, and the two beautiful stained glass windows – were originally from those synagogues. The Bimmah, or raised platform in the centre of the synagogue from where the Rabbi would address the congregation during a service, also combined features of the old synagogues, with delicately patterned metalwork. The ceiling was of special note, being gently curved with symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel depicted in the centres of many “Shields of David” in natural wood, blue paint and gold leaf.

What was striking, however, was the commonality between features here and those pertaining to the Muslim tradition – women covered their hair, worship was conducted facing Jerusalem, and the names of the great teachers from the Old Testament – Joseph, Moses etc. This was commented on by many Muslims who attended, who seemed genuinely interested in the proceedings.

We were shown around the synagogue and then treated to refreshments of delicious cakes and savouries before Azhar Rasul gave a vote of thanks, thanking the Rabbi and his congregation for a wonderful visit.


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Talk on Zoroastrianism September 15th 2016

On Thursday September 15th about 35 friends of Altrincham Interfaith Group gathered in Westleigh, adjoining St Vincent’s Church in Altrincham, to hear Burjor, Zarin and Rushna Avari talk about their religion, Zoroastrianism. After a prayer said by the family, Dr Burjor Avari, who teaches multiculturalism at Manchester Metropolitan University, began by talking about the history of the religion, which features the teachings of Zoroaster who lived around 600-1000BC in eastern Iran. He was one of the first people to teach monotheism, and to dismiss all the Indo-Aryan gods that had been worshipped before. Their supreme being was called Ahura Mazda which means “The Wise Lord.” But there is also an evil spirit called Ahriman who represents the spirit of evil in all of us. These two primal spirits are depicted as being in conflict in our minds, and we have to ensure that it is the good spirit that is uppermost. Burjor followed the history of the followers of Zoroaster from Iran to India after the Muslim conquest of Iran, where they prospered, and integrated well with the other communities there. Some later returned to Iran but after 1979 when the Ayatollah took over, they fled to the UK and the USA. Now only about 150,000 Zoroastrians survive in the world, where they are mostly engaged in businesses and are generally known as Parsis or Parsees.

Then Rushna, Burjor’s daughter, spoke to us about the ethics of the religion, and the importance of following the right path, with moderation in all things. She described the many charities that are funded in the UK and India by members of the religion, and also the importance of caring for the environment and animals. Harmony of living is a key factor.

Following that, Mrs Zarin Avari spoke about the various ceremonies that are carried out: the Fire Temples where a fire is always kept burning, the initiation ceremonies of boys and girls, and marriage and funeral rites. Funerals were often carried out in Towers of Silence in India, which are large, stone towers. The body is taken there by corpse-bearers and left for the vultures to eat, but in the UK people are cremated or buried. New Year celebrations, held on March 21st, were described, and the special dishes that are prepared for that occasion which involve items such as apple (beauty, fruits of the world), garlic (good health and peace), lentils (rebirth), pomegranate (sweetness) etc, which Mrs Avari had kindly brought along in their ceremonial containers for us to see.

There were several questions and a lively discussion after the talk, which was much enjoyed by everybody.

Carolyn Jones

(Hon., Sec. Altrincham Interfaith Group)

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Altrincham Interfaith Group Annual Shared Meal – February 6th 2016

As has become our custom, this year’s Shared Meal was held in the Hall of Altrincham Grammar  School for Boys and once again was a fantastic success.

After a welcome by the AIG Chairman, Gordon Levy, we heard Detective Police Inspector Ben Ewart of Trafford Division, Greater Manchester Police, who spoke about the excellent interfaith relations in the Borough of Trafford. Prayers were then recited by Muslim and Hindu children, and representatives of the Jewish and Christian communities after which everyone was invited to partake of the main course.

The Hall buzzed with chatter while people enjoyed delicious home-cooked food, with meat and vegetarian curries prepared and served by the Muslim and Hindu community, supplemented by samosas from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, and Kosher alternatives made by the Jewish members.

Then it was time to hear the main speaker, Baroness Susan Williams, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) who gave a personal and heart-warming talk about the work that she did in the community, and her interest in interfaith activities.

Following that, everyone descended on a large table groaning under the weight of numerous delicious puddings, cheese and biscuits and fruit donated by the Christian community which were enjoyed by all, and then chatter continues till it was time to go home.  It was so good to see members of all the faith communities mixing and talking together, which is the whole purpose of this shared meal.

Many thanks to Mr Gartside and the staff to Altrincham Grammar School for Boys who made the Hall available for our use. In few of the current situation, this year we will make a donation  from proceeds of the dinner to the charity Refugee Action.

Carolyn Jones, Hon. Sec. Altrincham Interfaith Group

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