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Annual Thanksgiving Celebration at The Turkish Cultural Center

On Wednesday, our second event was the annual Thanksgiving celebration at the Turkish Cultural Center on Madison Avenue in Lakewood. About 50 img_6078people turned up and quite a few of them had immigrated to the United States from other countries such as India, Albania, Egypt, and Syria as well as Turkey.

Our friend, Mr. Murat Gurer  told everyone to sit with someone who they did not know and thus we had a good visit with Mr. David Artykov, an information and security professional who had immigrated to the United States from Russia and had become a U.S. citizen less than two years ago.

The evening began with a welcome by Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers, who was there with his wife Wendy, who thanked the Center for its hospitality and said that how pleased he was that such a place where people of different cultural backgrounds could come together was located in Lakewood. He went on to say that "the world is getting smaller and a little more confused" thus places like the Turkish Cultural Center are vital because they help us to understand and to work with each other.img_6079

Mr. Gurer then invited Mr. Jason Harlen, Head Pastor of the Pearl Road United Methodist Church in Old Brooklyn to come forward to talk about how Thanksgiving is celebrated in the Christian faith. Mr. Harlen noted that although Christians love to celebrate Thanksgiving, it is not a religious holiday and then reviewed its historical origins. He said it could be considered as a symbolic meal in which those partaking in it expressed "thanks" for all of their blessings. Taking things a step further, a celebration of Thanksgiving also has the potential to be a coming together of various cultures; after all, we shouldn't forget that many of our first settlers came here as refugees in order to escape religious persecution in their countries of origin. Mr. Harlen closed by saying even though one could cite instances of religious and racial discrimination in the img_6082United States, he suggested that we view Thanksgiving as a time when we should acknowledge the mistakes that we have made in the past and move forward as a united people.

Our next speaker was Mr. David Rosen who works with high school students at the Beth Israel-West Temple on Triskett Road. Mr. Rosen spoke of how he and Mr. Gurer have brought together young people from both the Jewish and the Muslim cultures to work together on community projects and  img_6089have witnessed several interfaith friendships be formed. Mr. Rosen then took out his guitar and led all of us in a chorus of "Get Together" which contributed to the already upbeat ambiance of the Center.

We then enjoyed an excellent buffet of food consisting of many terrific vegetarian options. Afterwards, Ms. Seyma Saritoprak explained the origins of our dessert "Noah's Pudding" to us. Ms. Saritoprak said that when Noah and his family finally landed on dry land after being on the Ark for so long they celebrated by creating this dish composed of all the food that they had left. This unique mixture is also said to symbolize cultural diversity or, as Ms. Saritoprak proclaimed, "when people of different faiths come together into a harmonious entity."

By:

Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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