When it comes to building a diverse interfaith community at 7,000 feet, Rabbi Mindie Snyder of Congregation Lev Shalom in Flagstaff has a secret weapon: the power of friendship.
Snyder credits her friends with helping so many firsts come true for her community, especially last weekend, when Munir Shaikh, director of academic affairs and planning at Bayan Claremont, an Islamic graduate school in California, became the first speaker to be hosted by the synagogue and the recently opened Islamic Center of Flagstaff. The visit was also the first partnered event with the Murdoch Community Center, a hub for the local African-American community, and the first planned by Lev Shalom to compare aspects of Judaism and Islam in detail.
“Anything that has come to fruition in recent weeks and days has taken years of work and friendships behind it,” Snyder explained. “People have been thirsty for these kinds of conversations. I was trying to meet the needs of the greater Flagstaff community. Moving our programming around to different places where there were different interests, I thought, would be beneficial for our community, as well as our guests.”