Judaism, Islam practiced under one roof at interfaith center

Airman 1st Class Edward Drescher
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Jews and Muslims in the KMC now have a place to call home when it is time for worship.

The KMC Interfaith Center opened on Ramstein Tuesday and will play home to three religions: Islam, Jewish and Christian.

The $535,000 project, which broke ground in February, is a 4,000-square-foot extension of the Southside Chapel.

“What’s going on here at Ramstein is a benchmark not only for the military, but for the rest of the world,” said Chaplain (Col.) Richard Elliot, KMC head chaplain.

Before the Interfaith Center, overlapping services and varying religious schedules were only part of the problem.

The standard design for a Christian chapel is much different then that of a mosque or a synagogue.

In the new center, each faith will have its own area of worship that will be appropriate for that religion, and there will be no more staggering services.
“This gives me a fixed address to work with the Jewish congregation in the KMC,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Donald Levy, KMC rabbi. “And considering our holidays fall on different days every year this will really help.”

Prior to the opening of this center Chaplain Levy and Chaplain Hamza Al-Mubarak, KMC Muslim chaplain, held their services in the Ramstein Northside Chapel conference rooms or Vogelweh Chapel.

“It doesn’t really make sense to hold a service for 20 or 30 people in a chapel that is built for 500 people,” said Chaplain Levy.

The main thing that these chaplains are hoping for is that this center will bring more Islam and Jewish followers to their services.

“I hold services once a week and education classes twice a week and I hope that a fixed locations can get more Jewish people to come out of the woodwork,” said Chaplain Levy.

The completion of the center took a lot of work on both sides said Chaplain Elliott.

“The crown jewel of this was the teamwork; the two religions and how they worked together was the greatest reward for this whole process,” said Chaplain Elliott.