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A Reflective Journey: Arco Forum's Intercultural Christmas Dinner for Peace

Updated: Jan 9

As the new year of 2024 begins, a cordial invitation is extended to explore the Intercultural Christmas Dinner for Peace hosted by Arco Forum under the Protone Project. This memorable event unfolded on Wednesday, December 20th, at Espacio Ronda, bringing together partners, sponsors and collaborators from Arco Forum. Among them were Sonia Jiménez, Manager at the Spanish Observatory on Racism and Xenophobia (OBERAXE) from the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations; Rosario González Martín, Ph.D. in Philosophy and Educational Sciences, and Professor at the Department of Theory and History of Education at the Complutense University of Madrid; Juan Torres Vázquez, Coordinator of Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue in Vicariate VIII from the Archdiocese of Madrid; María Ángeles Quesada, Principal of the San Ignacio de Loyola School in Torrelodones, Madrid, and others.

Guests enjoyed a gastronomic experience, savouring the flavours of Turkey, thanks to a special collaboration with Casa Turca and the culinary expertise of Chef Kadir Usta.

Throughout the dinner, Arco Forum provided a recap of the activities and collaborations carried out in 2023. However, the undeniable highlight was the Protone Project, a European initiative co-financed by the European Commission dedicated to safeguarding places of worship for the Abrahamic monotheistic traditions in Europe. Arco Forum is currently deeply engaged in this endeavour alongside its esteemed partners: Dialogue Platform, Fedactio, Istituto Tevere, Leiden University, Religions for Peace, Stiftung Dialog und Bildung, and House of One Berlin.

Arco Forum reminisced about the inception of the Protone Project during its initial introduction to the general public, aligning with significant moments in the interreligious calendar, including Ramadan, Passover (Pesach), and Lent. To mark these occasions, Arco Forum organised a series of iftar meals throughout the month of Ramadan in 2023, coinciding with important dates in the Jewish and Christian calendars, such as Passover and Lent.

  • The first of these iftar events took place at the Bet-el Masorti Community in Madrid. Arco Forum had the honour of participating in the "Passover and Ramadan Shabbat" gathering within this community. The event began with the Kabbalat Shabbat Ceremony, welcoming the sacred day of Shabbat. Subsequently, Temir Naziri, the Executive Director of Arco Forum, introduced the Protone Project to the attendees and shared insightful words about Ramadan and the Sharing Ramadan initiative with the guests. The fast was then broken with a dinner featuring delicious Turkish cuisine and traditional Passover dishes prepared by the Jewish community.

  • Days later, Arco Forum, Pueblos Unidos, the Jesuit Migrant Service (SJM) and the SJM Interreligious Space in Madrid came together to celebrate an iftar, provided by Casa Turca. Temir Naziri introduced the Protone Project to the attendees, and ultimately, Macarena Úbeda Rojo, Coordinator of the Reception and Social Areas at Pueblos Unidos and in charge of the SJM Interreligious Space in Madrid, delivered a lecture titled "Taking Care of Creation: I Take Care of Myself." This presentation was part of the observance of the 'International Mother Earth Day.'

  • Finally, Arco Forum's headquarters hosted a lecture by Dr. M. Paz Martín, Deputy Director of the Royal Botanical Garden, who spoke on "The Advantages of Planting (Yourself)" and the benefits of plants for human well-being. The complete presentation (in Spanish) is available for viewing here 👉 Temir Naziri presented the Protone Project, and guests savoured a delightful Turkish dinner prepared in collaboration with Casa Turca.

The Christmas event was enriched by the perspectives shared by Armando Lozano, Director of Espacio Ronda, who warmly welcomed everyone to the venue. Father José Delgado, priest of the Parish of San Ignacio de Loyola in Torrelodones, Madrid, blessed the table and offered heartfelt words of welcome. Additionally, Rosario González Martín, concluded the evening with insightful reflections on peace. Furthermore, she shared the exciting news about the commencement of a project named 'Proteger' (meaning 'to protect' in Spanish), for which Arco Forum is eagerly anticipating and fully prepared to collaborate.

Adding to the cultural tapestry of the night was a brief yet powerful musical performance by members of the Spanish Youth Interfaith Ensemble (Joven Ensemble Interreligioso Español, JOIRE, by its initials in Spanish). Under the guidance of Maestro Julio Maroto, they delivered renditions of 'Hallelujah' in English and Arabic, as well as 'Shalom' from the musical 'The Physician'.

Arco Forum wishes to express its gratitude to everyone who contributed to this celebration.

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