Governor’s Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs Hosts Film, Food Drive

Community News
In the light of the holiday festivities, the Governor’s Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs ended the year with its first annual Interfaith Food Drive and Documentary screening, raising about 237 pounds of food for the Maryland Food Bank.

Often religious differences create a rift between Muslims and members of Christian and Jewish faith, but it was refreshing to see people from different faiths coming together to help those in need and to learn about each other.

The event, “Three Faiths, One God, One Service,” was held on December 20, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. in Annapolis, MD at the Miller Senate Building, attracting crowds from members of the interfaith community, both young and old.

The main purpose of the event was to recognize and celebrate a community’s commitment to service and charity, while fostering a dialogue to discuss the strengths and commonalities of the three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam through the documentary screening of, “Three Faiths, One God: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.”

Among the crowd was the documentary’s director and producer, Gerald Krell l, and the photographer and editor, Meyer Odze. They led a panel discussion following the documentary answering questions from the audience.

Auteur Productions, Ltd. Is a television production company in Washington, D.C. The principals of the organization are Krell, Odze and Adam Krell. Krell and Odze have garnered many international awards for a wide range of documentaries and educational programs that took them to every continent to cover a variety of subjects. Prior to forming their own company they were senior documentary producers with the United States Information Agency.

Both Krell and Odze received their Master of Arts degree in Cinema from UCLA. They have also interviewed high level officials such as: Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, James Baker, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, and Nancy Reagan.

Anwer Hasan, the Chair of Governor’s Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs (GCMEAA), took the podium and welcomed the audience.

“The Commission and I strongly believe there is much more that unites our community than divides it… And that is why we found it imperative to start hosting an interfaith and service event,” said Hasan.

Thanking organizers Siron Zidon and Iman, and everyone for attending and contributing to the food drive – donations went to the Maryland Food Bank – Hasan said he hopes to continue the event as an annual tradition.

Krell also addressed the gathering, highlighting what he thought was one of the most important aspects of his work.

“[The documentary] is a gate-way to learning the commonalities between three major religions. I hope you enjoy watching the documentary just as we enjoyed making it,” he said.

“Three Faiths, One God” captures a broad range of voices and ideas of ordinary people and respected scholars in the interfaith field. The program contrasts the religious practices of the three faiths, including the rituals of fasting and marriage. It also features a dramatic and moving example of reconciliation as the father of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl opens a dialogue between Muslims and Jews to create better understanding between the two faiths.

Earlier in December, the documentary was aired all across the United States on PBS stations.

Following the documentary, a small discussion was led by the filmmakers answering questions and taking comments from the guests.
“I feel the film as way to reach to everyone in our society who thinks we are different from each other,” Rizwan Siddiqi, President of the Howard County Muslim Council said. “It helps eliminate the little doubt that many have about Jews, Christians, or Muslims. As a Muslim, it gives me satisfaction that we have something to convince people that we are peace-loving people as opposed to the image that has been created of us in the society by the extremists … I think we should hold screenings in our individual communities to make people be aware of other religions around us,” said Siddiqi.

The film is available in Arabic and has been distributed throughout United States.

“Our goal was to not just [to] facilitate a food drive,” organizer Ms. Zidan explained. “[We wanted] to also foster a dialogue in order to understand each other. And we were able to achieve that today. I am thankful for my fellow commissioners’ efforts in distributing the information about tonight’s event to their networks,” she said.