The Washington Times - April 21, 2009, 06:54AM

How often does an imam wish to speak in a synagogue? For that matter, how often do the congregations of synagogues invite Islamic leaders to speak?

This coming Friday - April 24, the Free Synagogue of Flushing, New York will host Imam Shamsi Ali to speak at an interfaith memorial observance for the Holocaust. Following his remarks, both he and Rabbi Michael Weisser of the Free Synagogue will conduct an interfaith dialog in the spirit of promoting much-needed understanding and respect between faiths. People of all faiths are invited to attend, and as many readers of this blog do not live in the New York area, I will try to share information about this event as it becomes available.

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Imam Shamsi Ali is an Advisory Board member of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding as well as leader of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. For the last several years since the 911 attacks on New York he has lectured in schools, churches and synagogues to promote religious tolerance and understanding. He was named “Ambassador for Peace” by the International Religious Federation in 2002, and in 2006 New York Magazine called him one of New York City’s most influential religious leaders.

Rabbi Weisser, in speaking of Imam Ali’s upcoming visit, said, “We are remembering the Holocaust by actively living the values that would have made it an impossibility: those of understanding, respect and tolerance toward all faiths. Imam Ali and I share a common vision of a world in which people of all traditions will come to consider themselves as family working together to build a more harmonious world. That is why I am so proud to welcome Imam Shamsi Ali, my brother, friend and partner in interfaith outreach, here at the Free Synagogue of Flushing, in the heart of multicultural Queens.”

For any readers who live in the New York area who are interested in attending this timely gathering, please call the Free Synagogue at (718) 961 0030.