Community Voices

South Florida Muslims to host open houses throughout Ramadan

I have had the privilege of writing this column for a number of years. I am blessed to have a voice to express my opinion and, sometimes, I have the opportunity to express your opinion, too.

One of the things I like to do is to promote community unity. I believe that one way to do this is to get to know someone who is “different” from you — someone of a different religion or ethnic background. It is a small step, but believe me, it works.

For example, on June 10, God willing and if the creek don’t rise, I will be a part of my “adopted” Cuban family at their monthly family gathering. Last Passover, I was a part of my dear friend Gail Harris’ Seder. On Tuesday, May 30, I hope to take part in the annual Ramadan open house at the Islamic Center of Greater Miami.

This is fitting because the holy month of Ramadan begins Saturday. During the month, Muslims throughout the world will fast from dawn to sunset, refraining from food, water and any worldly pleasures. It is a time for reflection and the involvement of intense prayer for Muslims.

During the month, South Florida Muslims will host open houses at different mosques. The times and addresses of the open house events are:

▪ 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, Islamic Center of Greater Miami, Miami Gardens, 4305 NW 183rd St. To RSVP., call Khalid Mirza at 305-904-0074 or email; Dr. Abdul Samara, 954-505-0701 or email to

▪ 7:30 p.m. May 31, Islamic Jafferia Association, 10554 NW 132nd St,, Hialeah Gardens. RSVP to Jamil Rizvi, 305-607-1768 or email; or Raza Rizvi, 305-481-4869 or email

▪ 7 p.m. June 3, Nur-UI-Islam, 10600 SW 59th St, Cooper City. RSVP to Zehra Khan, 954-374-7722 or email

▪ 7:30 p.m. June 7, Islamic School of Miami — Al Noor Mosque in Kendall, 11699 SW 147th Ave. RSVP to Naveed Anjum, 786-512-3150 or email

▪ 7:30 p.m. June 10, Ershad Center, 6669 SW 59th Pl., South Miami. RSVP to Masoud Ebrahimi, 305-970-5202.

Dinner will be served at all open houses. If you plan on attending, please be advised that modest dress is recommended. If you need more information, call Shabbir Motorwala at 305 283-2261 or email

Rabbi a Coral Gables Police chaplain

Congratulations to Rabbi Jonathan Fisch, who recently was named a chaplain of the Coral Gables Police Department.

Fisch, a rabbi at Temple Judea in Coral Gables, where Rabbi Judith Siegal is the synagogue’s senior spiritual leader, was installed by Coral Gables Police Chief Edward Hudak Jr. at a Friday night service in April at the temple.

“In just two short years, Rabbi Jonathan Fisch has immersed himself into all aspects of community, building in a variety of meaningful ways through his friendship, love of study and worship,” Siegal said. “We are very proud of his leadership and new role as a chaplain of the ... Coral Gables Police Department.”

Fisch was ordained in May 2014 and received a master of Arts in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles; a bachelor of arts in Modern Jewish Studies from California State University Northridge and was awarded “The Louis and Minnie Raphael Memorial Prize for Outstanding Service to a Small Congregation” in 2012.

He is married to Abby and they are the parents of a daughter.

Professor to lecture at West Miami synagogue

You are invited to join the congregation at Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom at 8:15 p.m. Friday for worship and to hear a lecture by Dr. Abraham Lavender.

Lavender is a professor at Florida International University and a member of the Sephardic Studies program there. He will speak during the Kabbalat Shabbat services, which will also commemorate Memorial Day.

Lavender is the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian Crypto Jews. He also served in Missouri and in Turkey as the Personnel Casualty Officer of the U.S.Air Force during the Vietnam War.

The synagogue is at 6438 SW Eighth St. in West Miami. Light refreshments will follow Lavender’s presentation.

‘This Is My Country’ concert

The third annual Patriotic Concert at Silver Palm United Methodist Church, 15855 SW 248th St. in Homestead, will be 7 p.m. Friday and is presented by the church’s choir and some members of the South Dade Community Choir.

The program will include the Homestead Air Reserve Base Color Guard; Boy Scout Troop No. 69 and Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter.

The concert title is, “This Is My Country,” and was created by Sue C. Smith and Russell Mauldin and arranged and orchestrated by Russell Mauldin. The Rev. Diane Gutierrez will be the narrator and the sound and DVD is by Sandy Ames and directed by music minister Sandy Keffer.

The presentation will “take a look back” at American heritage and will include familiar songs, as well as new.

If you go, you are encouraged to bring your own flag to wave and to wear the American colors of red, white and blue. Military personnel are encouraged to wear their uniforms.

Call Bob Jensen at 305-248-0976 for more information.

Miami Shores church concert

Miami Shores Community Church at 9823 NE Fourth Ave. will host a recital featuring the voice students of Performer’s Music Institute at 7 p.m. June 3.

The program will include vocal selections from opera, musical theatre, arts songs and popular music, according to Oscar Diaz, Jr., founder/artistic director of the institute.

Performers will be Rosie Herrera, lyric-coloratura soprano; Miguel Llerena, tenor; Jennifer Maer, mezzo-soprano; Stanislav Zelenko, base-baritone, and Michael Zlatkin, bass.

The singers will be accompanied by pianists Gregory Szeto and Jared Peroune. It’s free.

Baptist Women’s Council scholarships

Hats off to the Baptist Women’s Council and their ongoing support of education, as well as missions.

On May 20 at Miami Shores Country Club, the council led by President Gwendolyn Farrington presented scholarships to graduating high school seniors Jamila Gowdy and Joseph Miller . Each received $500, which will be given them each year for as long as they are in college.

Founded by the late Marie M. White, the council’s main purpose is to support mission and education.

Miami-Dade chiefs association

My long-time friend Diane Smithson was happy to let me know that her son, Raleigh Flowers Jr., recently was sworn in as president of Miami-Dade County Chiefs of Police Association. He was sworn in by Miami Dade County Police Department Director Juan Perez.

Flowers is a graduate of Miami Northwestern High School, class of 1986.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.