Jewish Community of Louisville Together in Life, Learning and Leadership Tue, 28 Jul 2015 20:46:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Full Day of Fun at JCC 125 Festival Tue, 28 Jul 2015 03:20:01 +0000 Read More >]]> Every day the Jewish Community Center has something fun to do. But on August 23, it will have 125 fun things to do to celebrate its 125 years of service to the Louisville community.

The JCC 125 Festival will be 1-5 p.m. and will be a free, fun, family-friendly festival, said Lenae Price, who is helping plan the event. “The JCC has been serving the community for 125 years, and this is our way of saying thank you,” she said. “Wear your bathing suit and tennis shoes because you’ll get a chance to use both!”

Some of the activities available include, crafts, pool games, sports, health and wellness demonstrations, food trucks, adult beverages, face painting, Sno Cones, a beanbag toss, live entertainment, karaoke and so much more. There will be multiple events going on at the same time, so there’s never a chance to be bored.

“My vision is to use the whole outside of the JCC,” said Abby Tasman, co-chair of the event. “We’re going to have something fun for all age groups. There will be something for every member and people who don’t know much about the JCC can come and find something to do.”

“I think this will be a great opportunity to get people with kids and without kids to come and enjoy a day at the JCC and remember why they love the JCC,” Co-chair Michelle Tasman said. “It’s also a chance for people who don’t know about the JCC to come see all the different things they can do here on a daily basis.” The festival is open to everyone, not just members.

“This event is also for everybody who has driven past the JCC and thought, ‘I wonder what’s going on in there.’ Here is our chance to show them,” Price said. In the tradition of service, the JCC has teamed up with the Yum! Brands Foundation to feed the needy with a “Food, Glorious Food” drive. Visitors to the festival are invited to bring non-perishable food items to donate to local food pantries.

“The JCC has served the community for 125 years and continues to do so with this event,” Price said. “We encourage everyone to bring their canned food items to this free event and join us in having a day filled with fun and continue to help feed the needy in our community.” Michelle Tasman agreed.

“They can come out and also support a really good charity,” she said. “There will be music and fun prizes. It will be really fantastic.”

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Celebrate Israel at Community Shabbat Dinner and Concert Tue, 28 Jul 2015 03:16:28 +0000 Read More >]]> scoutsperformanceThe community is invited to come to dance and celebrate our connection with Israel at the Community-Wide Tzofim Concert and Family Shabbat Dinner on Friday, July 31, at the Jewish Community Center.

The Friends of Israel Scouts Inc., or Tzofim, will come to Louisville and spend the day with JCC campers, teaching them songs and Israeli culture. At 6 p.m., the scouts will perform a concert for the community, and there will be a kosher family Shabbat dinner at 7. The cost for dinner is $15 for adults and $8 for children. The Tzofim will also perform for campers at 2 p.m.

The show, which travels to various camps and JCCs around the country, offers a medley of contemporary and traditional songs from the U.S. and Israel. “They are really talented,” said Mike Steklof, assistant director of camping and youth. “The show is a lot of fun for the kids and families, and it’s another great opportunity for our campers to learn about Israeli culture.”

The group will lead Israel education activities earlier in the day to teach campers about Israel and Israeli culture.
Formed in 1995, the Tzofim program seeks to strengthen relationships between Israel and North American Jewry, project Israel in a positive light and form strong bonds of friendship between the Israeli youth and their American counterparts. The scouts have come to be a fun, well-loved summertime tradition.

There will be 12 scouts in Louisville, all of them Israeli teens, staying with volunteer host families.

For more information on the concert or the Israeli Scouts, contact Mike Steklof at 502-238-2774 or

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Kim Levin’s Film, Runoff, Now Showing at the Village 8 Tue, 28 Jul 2015 03:14:53 +0000 Read More >]]> imagesNEW YORK – The critically acclaimed narrative feature film Runoff by Louisville native Kimberly Levin will premiere simultaneously in Louisville and Lexington on July 24.

Produced and filmed entirely in Kentucky, Runoff is coming off a successful opening in New York City, where among independent films it turned in the nation’s second-highest Per Theater Average at the box office and was called an “impressive directorial debut” by The New York Times and, according to RogerEbert, a must-see for anyone who wants “to say you were there when a great American filmmaker’s career kicked off.”

Runoff tells the story of a woman who goes to desperate lengths to save her family when they are threatened from their land. It was filmed on working farms in Oldham and Henry counties, as well as locations near Loretto and Erlanger. It stars Joanne Kelly (TV’s Warehouse 13, Hostages), Neal Huff, (Meek’s Cutoff, The Grand Budapest Hotel, HBO’s “The Wire”), Alex Shaffer (The Lifeguard, Win Win) and Tom Bower (Crazy Heart, Nixon, Die Hard 2).

Runoff was filmed over the course of autumn, at harvest time, when the trees turned red and the tobacco leaves hung yellow in the barns. The majority of the cast and crew are Kentucky natives.

The two-city Kentucky premiere will take place Friday, July 24 at the Kentucky Theater in Lexington and the Village 8 Cinema in Louisville, both of which will show Runoff for a week. The daily screenings at the Village 8 in Louisville are at 12:50, 3:00, 5:15, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. The Kentucky Theater screenings in Lexington are TBA.

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Shabbat a Special Time at JCC Summer Camp Tue, 28 Jul 2015 03:12:06 +0000 Read More >]]> DSC_0050Summer camp is meant to be chock full of summer fun, and the Jewish Community Center Summer Camp is certainly that. But the camp is still a Jewish camp grounded in Jewish values, even if many of the campers are not Jewish.

The JCC’s camp accomplishes this by having Shabbat programming every Friday with all of camp. Though our campers are from diverse faith traditions, they get to participate in the joy of celebrating Shabbat, and they like it.

In the morning circle, campers come together with the Early Learning Center children to sing Shabbat songs and get the day started.

In the afternoon, the campers gather for Shabbat in which they say blessings over the candles, the grape juice (instead of wine) and the challah, said Talia Wagner, Keff program director. “We ask volunteers to hold the stuffed candles, challah and juice for the group.” Then actual challah is passed out for campers to enjoy.

“It’s important for campers to experience Judaism,” said Mike Steklof, assistant director of camping and youth. “After all, that’s really why we’re here.”
In the afternoon, Shabbat is made even more fun with a skit.

“I print out the Torah portion of the week, and we translate it into a skit that kids will understand,” Wagner said. “We have camp counselors who act out the skit for the children, and they really enjoy it.”

Recently, a skit was about how the Israelites were angry that God gave them manna instead of real food, so the skit was about being grateful for what you have. The actors used graham crackers instead of manna and the actors complained about them.

Another recent skit was about inclusion. The male actors were playing basketball, when a girl wanted to join. But the boys didn’t want to play with a girl. Then a camp counselor intervened and said that they should all play together and not exclude anyone.

The skits are purposely kept short, said Betsy Schwartz, senior director of camping and youth services. “Younger children can’t pay attention very long, so we make the skits short so that the campers can still get the important message of that week’s Torah portion.”
Schwartz said the parents of non-Jewish children have all responded positively.

“We like celebrating Shabbat with the campers,” Schwartz said. “The Jewish children get to practice their Judaism each week and celebrate together, and it exposes non-Jewish families to Jewish culture and religion. I’ve gotten lots of feedback from non-Jewish parents saying they are glad their children are learning about Shabbat.”

But they are also a little confused.

“Parents call asking, “What is this challah (often pronouncing it incorrectly), and where can I get it? My kid keeps asking for it!”
Shabbat becomes a teaching opportunity for parents, too.

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‘Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen …’ with CenterStage’s sizzling summer smash hit musical, ‘9to5’ Tue, 28 Jul 2015 03:10:20 +0000 Read More >]]> CenterStage, with the generous support of title sponsor, Hilliard Lyons, will turn up the heat as Dolly Parton’s brand spankin’ new musical, 9to5: The Musical sizzles onto the stage.

Based on the hilarious blockbuster 1980s film, “9to5: The Musical” follows the outrageous adventure of three quirky secretaries, Violet, Doralee and Judy, as they take revenge on their egotistical, lying, hypocritical and chauvinistic boss. Their plan, of course, spins wildly out of control, and what ensues is pure hilarity! The show features a euphoric score by Grammy Award winning composer, Dolly Parton and a clever book by the film’s original screenwriter, Patricia Resnick . Mix the perfect blend of Broadway and pop music, witty and smart dialogue and add a touch of Dolly’s charming unique style and you get this hysterical, musical tour de force for women that is sure to delight audiences young and old alike.

Doralee is played by Jessica Adamson, who has been in Oklahoma!, Brigadoon, RENT and 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Her most recent role was as Mrs. Walker in The Who’s Tommy. Lauren McCombs, who plays Judy, has been in several CenterStage productions, including Next to Normal, RENT and many others. Violet is played by Julie McGuffey, who was in “Light Up CenterStage,” and Spring Awakening. Mr. Hart is played by Rusty Henle, who is on his 16th season with CenterStage. Previous roles include Captain Vonn Trapp in Sound of Music and the sheriff in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the Academy Award nominated film is the 20th highest grossing comedy film of all time and has been named to the American Film Institute’s list of “100 Funniest Movies.” Dolly Parton’s title song, 9to5, received two Grammy Awards, an Academy Award nomination and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Artists of America. The musical opened on Broadway in 2009 and was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Score, and a record-breaking 15 Drama Desk Awards. Since its Broadway run, 9to5: The Musical has played to sell-out audiences both nationally and internationally.

The show is August 20-30 at the JCC. Tickets are $20 in advance, $22 at the door. Call 502-238-2709 or visit for tickets. This season is one of CenterStage’s most popular with a record number of season tickets already sold. Most weekend shows are already sold out, but season tickets are still available for Mondays, Thursdays and second Sundays. Get your tickets for the whole season or pick five of the remaining six shows. Contact Anne Ensign-Urteaga at 502-238-2773 or visit for more information.

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Unique Perspectives at JCC Patio Gallery Tue, 28 Jul 2015 03:03:55 +0000 Read More >]]> Wood_Madwoman-Dreamer-5x71McCrystle Wood, an art professor emeritus at the University of Cincinnati, will present her unique show “Specters and Figments” at the Patio Gallery now through August 25.

Wood is a painter and printmaker who incorporates aspects of nature into her work, which is all computer-generated using 3D modeling. She doesn’t use any photos as a basis, but uses the computer to generate unique and engaging pieces, evoking nature and the female form.

She began using the computer to create art out of necessity because all her creative supplies had been lost in a studio fire in 1987. “The process I use is very much like making a sculpture,” Wood said. “I build and construct objects that have all the dimensions and the three-dimensional mass of a real, physical object, except that they are virtual objects and they exist in virtual space.”

Her show at the Patio Gallery will include pieces from three of her series: “Found, and Lost,” “Specters and Figments,” and “Chimera.”

Wood received her BFA and MFA degrees from Indiana University in Bloomington. Her fine arts work has been exhibited national and internationally, and is included in more than 40 museums and public art collections. She was the juror for the Annual Mazin Show at the Patio Gallery in November 2014, and the Patio Gallery board liked her work and decided to bring her show here.

“We are very excited and looking forward to this show,” said Slava Nelson, JCC cultural arts director. “When our committee approved her to judge the Mazin show, they took a look at her work and asked her to show here. We are always looking for different media and genres to show at the gallery.”

Also showing at the Patio Gallery Showcase is “As I See It,” the photography of Catherine Balfe. The Patio Gallery Showcase is just outside the gallery in the lobby of the Jewish Community Center. Balfe lived in Connecticut before her move to Louisville, and her professional career included business and social work, and is now an educator in the Jefferson County Public School System.

“Composition is the formative element of an artfully successful photograph,” Balfe said. “Art is a diverse range of human activities and a product of those activities.” Her photographs have received many awards, citing strong composition and attention to detail.

Stop by the gallery to get a glimpse of this unique work. For more information, contact Slava Nelson, cultural arts director, 502-238-2760 or

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Chabad Offers Class on Ethics in War Tue, 28 Jul 2015 02:59:40 +0000 Read More >]]> In the weeks and months following 9/11, the Bush administration launched what it named the “War on Terror” against militant Islam. With the realization that the West was doing battle not with a particular nation-state, but a world-wide terror network, many conventional methods of warfare suddenly became obsolete, as did the traditional definition of war.

Almost immediately controversy erupted surrounding the advanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA to elicit information from suspected terrorists. Today, some contend that those interrogation techniques were actually torture, and thus illegal, adding that they were ineffective as well. At the same time, there has been significant pushback from the intelligence community, much of which continues to maintain that the techniques did, in fact, save lives.

How can the inherent conflict between maintaining national security and protecting civil liberties resolved? With the recent destabilization of much of the Middle East and the dawn of ISIS, this question has never been more relevant.

On August 18, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) will present Justice and the War on Terror, a special Continuing Legal Education-accredited two-part series, which shines a light on this modern dilemma.

Rabbi Avrohom Litvin of Chabad of Kentucky will conduct the two-part course at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, August 18 and 25, at Chabad House, 1654 Almara Cr.

“The questions being asked in this series are unfortunately very pertinent today,” says Rabbi Litvin, the local JLI instructor in Louisville. “We will be discussing the legal issues involved from the perspective of U.S. law and contemporary Israeli law, and compare them with concepts laid out in Talmudic law.”

The second part of the course will focus on negotiating with terrorists for hostages. From Israel’s exchange of 1,027 prisoners for one captured IDF soldier, to the United States government’s insistence that ransom payments made by family of those kidnapped by ISIS were illegal, these life and death situations have real world bearing.

“The Jewish people have experienced similar situations throughout our arduous history,” explains Rabbi Zalman Abraham of JLI headquarters in New York. “When Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg was imprisoned for ransom in the Middle Ages, he ruled on his own abduction in light of Talmudic law.”

The rabbi refused to allow his students to pay his ransom, and he died in prison after seven years, where his body remained for a further 14 years until it was redeemed by a wealthy German Jew.

“His was a devastating, but principled course of action,” Rabbi Abraham said.

Like all previous JLI programs, Justice and the War on Terror is designed to appeal to people at all levels of Jewish knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. All JLI courses are open to the public, and attendees need not be affiliated with a particular synagogue, temple or other house of worship. There is a fee of $49 for this class.

Interested students may call 502-459-1770 or visit for registration and other course-related information.

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The Punch of Something Different Tue, 28 Jul 2015 02:54:52 +0000 Read More >]]> Morgan Price punched at the mitts on the instructor’s hands – jab, jab, hook; jab, jab, hook. She had no fear and no hesitation as she pounded those mitts. Instructor Rebecca Bell shouted encouragement at her, yelling at her to keep her hands up to her face and to use her core.

This is not a sweaty boxing gym like you see in the movies. This is Bell’s boxing class at the Jewish Community Center.

The popular class, which is held on Tuesday evenings in the lower gym, is a real boxing class, even if the participants aren’t planning to get into a ring.
The JCC only has one heavy bag and one speed bag, but that’s OK, Bell said. “Boxing involves so many things in order to get prepared for the ring,” she said. “You need agility, you need strength and you need speed. Very few programs actually have a speed bag, so JCC is very unique in that respect.”

Although only one participant can punch the heavy bag or speed bag at a time, Bell keeps the class occupied with different stations and breaks up the class in intervals using a computer program that dings like a boxing ring bell.

“There’s so much more to boxing than just punching, which I think is why so many people were disappointed in the Pacquiao-Merriwether fight because it was a technical fight, but it wasn’t a brawl,” Bell said.

Fighting experience
Bell is no stranger to the boxing ring. When she was living in New York years ago working as a fitness trainer, boxing was becoming more popular, and she thought, “I bet I could do that.” She learned there was a boxing gym right down the street from her, but she struggled to find it.

“I got the exact address, and it looked like a retirement home,” she said. “I was about to back out, and someone asked what I needed. They said the boxing gym was down two levels in the sub-basement. You could smell and hear it before you could see it. It was filthy. I thought, ‘This is a weird gym’.”

Eventually, she found the guy she was looking for. “He gave me the total third-degree. He didn’t want to train me, but eventually he took me on as a client,” she said. “It was right about when professional boxer Christy Martin was starting to make a name for herself. She was the first woman boxer who ever made $1 million on a fight.

“He trained me and thought I could actually do it. I trained for the Golden Gloves, but after the Gloves, I was sparring with a 16-year-old. My trainer realized I didn’t fight him like I did the women in the Gloves.”

Fighting in the Golden Gloves was an interesting experience, she said.

“It was intimidating, even going to the weigh-ins,” she said. “These women looked like prison guards! I had my heart in my throat. I had to tell myself, ‘I’m as tough as they are.’”

Training others
Now that she’s in Louisville, she trains people to box for exercise but she doesn’t change her methods.

“I train everyone the same,” Bell said. “I treat everyone as if they are a pro. I obviously have no expectation that anyone in my class is going to get into the ring. However, I still train them in that way, mainly because that’s just my experience.”

Sisters Morgan Price, 18, and Kaitlin Price, 16, have been taking Bell’s class since January, and Bell said she’s noticed a big difference in them. When they first came in here, they were giggly teenagers, she said. “Now they come in and get right to work.”

“I had always wanted to try boxing,” Morgan Price said, “and when the JCC got it, I was like, ‘I have to try it!’ It’s really different than any other exercise class you go to. It uses different muscles.”

“That’s why I like it,” Kaitlin Price added.

Both girls said they feel tougher since they started taking the class. “When we tell our friends we do boxing, they’re like, ‘Oh!’”
The biggest change Bell sees in her clients is their demeanor.

“You carry yourself differently,” she said. “I see it in my class. It’s really empowering!”
Member Suzy Hillebrand has taken the class, too.

“It’s one of those classes where I can turn my brain off and focus on it” Hillebrand said. “But it requires me to think a little more, which I like. You have to think of the combinations she wants you to do.”

She said she never felt intimidated in the class.

“It was out of my usual scope,” she said. “I was on a kick to try something new every week, and that was my thing that week to try. It’s so much fun!”
The Price sisters said that Bell is a good instructor.

“She really encourages you and makes you feel like you can do it,” Morgan Price said.
Bell is just glad to be teaching boxing.

“That’s one thing about boxing people, they are so laid back,” Bell said. “There’s something about boxing that makes people realize that they don’t have to get all riled up.”

Boxing is 5:30-6 p.m. Tuesdays in the lower gym. The class is free, space is limited so sign-up is recommended up to two days in advance. Call or stop by the Wellness desk to sign up.

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Operation Save a Life Raises Money to Reunite Family Tue, 28 Jul 2015 02:53:04 +0000 Read More >]]> FullSizeRender[4]It was a time to celebrate. No, it wasn’t a Jewish holiday, but the celebration had aspects of one. As Jews, we are commanded by God to help those in need. It is for us an act of justice. And that’s what Operation Save a Life was all about. We gathered on June 23 at Jewish Hospital to help a former Lost Boy of Sudan reunite with his wife and three daughters.

There was food, of course. There was music made possible by the Jodi Feld Lapin Fund of Adath Jeshurun and arranged by Cantor David Lipp, who also performed.

The call went out to raise the money needed to help Martin Naihl. And the Jewish community, spearheaded by Rabbi Robert Slosberg of Congregation Adath Jeshurun, responded. Scores of people donated to the Adath Jeshurun Pikuach Nefesh Fund of Jewish Hospital & St Mary’s Foundation. Enough money to do the job.FullSizeRender[1]

When Sudanese militia attacked in the 1990’s, Martin, like thousands of others, fled and became one of the legendary Sudanese “Lost Boys” who drifted unaccompanied through one peril after another and eventually to refugee camps, first in Ethiopia and then in Kenya.

Over the years, he married and had children. He was one of the lucky few to make it to the United States, and luckier still to Louisville. Martin, who now works as a surgical technician at Jewish Hospital, spoke movingly about the plight of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He expressed the feeling that he has found a home here in Louisville and is no longer lost.

FullSizeRender[2]But, bringing his family to the United States has proven difficult and costly. Now, through the efforts of Rabbi Slosberg, Cantor Lipp, the Jewish Hospital & St Mary’s Foundation and especially the generosity of Louisville’s Jews, the long delayed reunion is in sight.

Martin’s wife and three daughters between the ages of 2 and 9 are in Uganda. Martin has raised a fifth of the money needed to bring them to Louisville and our Jewish community raised the rest.

In fact, the community raised enough that Martin should be able to keep the portion he raised for use when his family arrives in Louisville.


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Interfaith Iftar Dinner Draws 500 Tue, 28 Jul 2015 02:51:09 +0000 Read More >]]> The Pakistani American Alliance for Compassion and Education (PACE) hosted an interfaith Iftar dinner on July 9 to break the daily fast during the month of Ramadan. The event, which drew more than 500 people of many different faiths, was held at Second Presbyterian Church.

This Iftar dinner has become an annual event that the Pakistani Islamic community uses to build bridges with other faith communities in Louisville. The event began at 8 with a series of speakers, and dinner was served after sunset.

Dr. Muhammad Babar, a leader in PACE, explained to the crowd that the dinner is a celebration of Ramadan and it “reminds us that our main duty is to serve humanity.” He drew a clear line between the peace-loving majority of Muslims the violent extremists like the Taliban and ISIS. He concluded his remarks with a quote from the Trappist Monk Thomas Merton, telling the gathering that your faces are shining like the sun – we belong to each other.

Mayor Greg Fischer spoke briefly about Louisville’s momentum as a city of compassion and love and the richness our diversity brings to our culture. The first step, he said is to learn about our differences; the second is to accept those differences; and the third is to go beyond those differences to make a difference. “We all have the same God,” he said, “but we serve him differently.” And as Muhammad Ali said, all people are part of one family.

Representing Louisville’s Islamic Community, Dr. Kiarash Jahed’s comments followed in the same vein. He told the story of the some of the earliest followers of the Prophet Muhammad who were heavily persecuted in Mecca. They sought refuge from the king of Abyssinia. The king asked what they believe and the Muslims replied, Muhammad taught us to worship one God, to be good to our neighbors, prayer, charity, to care for others, to seek good and to move from darkness toward light. After talking for a while, the king realized there was no difference between them and welcomed them.

“You cannot have interfaith harmony,” Jahed concluded, “unless you can look at someone not of the same faith as you and say honestly, that is my people.”

Rabbi Joe Rooks Rapport of The Temple shared Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s Song of the Grass, that says every shepherd and each blade of grass has its own song and God’s song is heard over all. But the greatest song is the harmony created with all the songs together. “We can be other and the same at once,” he said.

The keynote speaker of the evening was Father James Channan, a Catholic priest who serves as director of the Peace Center of the Dominican Order in Pakistan. He told the story of a Pakistani Christian couple. The wife was accused of burning some pages from the Koran and a local imam issued a fatwa ordering that the couple be killed for blasphemy. Channan reported that 2,000 people turned out to carry out the fatwa and when it was done, only the couple’s ashes remained.

Word of this killing reached Dr. Babar and it grieved him. The Louisville physician contacted Father Channan with an offer to sponsor the couple’s children. With Dr. Babar’s help, Father Channan purchased a house for the children, and funds are available to provide the opportunity for them to become doctors.

“Louisville is a compassionate city,” Father Channan said, “and I’m sure the rest of the world can learn from Louisville.” He also expressed hope that one day his city and Louisville can be sister cities.

He also described some of the intolerance he sees in his own country. In Pakistan, 96 percent of the population is Muslim, he said, and most of them want to live in peace. A small number of terrorists make this very difficult.

On July 19, Father Channan received the Ambassador of Global Peace Award from a United Nations organization.

The Rev. Susan EngPoole, the interim director of Interfaith Paths to Peace, led an interfaith blessing before the meal and Dr. Syed Khader presented the call to evening prayer before breaking the Ramadan fast. Those Muslims who wanted to pray before eating were able to do so in a separate room.
The dinner was catered by Jarfi’s Catering.

PACE is an outgrowth of the Association of American Physicians of Pakistani Descent (APPKI). APPKI, a group with membership of physicians and their families only) started the Iftar dinner five years ago. As this dinner’s popularity grew, PACE was established to enable members of Louisville’s Pakistani community who are not physicians to participate in hosting the event.

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