The Tri-Faith Initiative


Save the Date: Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lecia Brooks, Director of the Civil Rights Museum of Montgomery, Alabama and Outreach Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center will speak on Thursday, January 15, at 7:00 PM as part of the Annual Lecture Series at the Center for Faith Studies at Countryside Community Church. Ms. Brooks’ talk will focus on the current landscapes of extremist activity in America as well as the effective strategies to combat the ever-present threat to return America to a land of intolerance and fear.


Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling (402) 391-0350, emailing or at the door the evening of the event. Students with ID are always free.


brooks ad


The event is co-sponsored by Nebraska Families Collaborative, The Tri-Faith Initiative and the Anti-Defamation League.

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights and fried foods?

Hanukkah 2014: December 16-24



The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, commemorates the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks and the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. While the Syrian-Greeks controlled and occupied the Temple it was used for the worship of foreign gods and practices. In order to purify the Temple, Jewish soldiers determined they would need to burn ritual oil in a menorah for eight days. However, there was only enough oil to burn the menorah for one day. Miraculously, the lit menorah lasted the full eight days.


The miracle of the Hanukkah oil is a part of the tradition, and to celebrate, Jews light a special menorah for eight days. One candle is lit on the first night of the holiday, two on the second, and so on, until eight candles have been lit. Another manifestation of the miracle oil is the tradition of eating fried foods.


Traditionally, Hanukkah is one of the less important Jewish holidays, but has become much more popular in modern practice because of its proximity to the Christian holiday of Christmas. Hanukkah has also become much more festive and Christmas-like—children receive a gift each night of the celebration.


Fried food is traditionally eaten on Hanukkah in commemoration of the oil that miraculously burned for eight days. Fried Potato Pancakes (called Latkes in Yiddish and Levivot in Hebrew) are the hands-down the holiday favorite in Jewish homes.


Recipe for Traditional Hanukkah Latkas


• 5 potatoes
• 2 onions
• 3 eggs
• 1 tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. pepper
• between ¼ to ¾ cup all purpose flour


1. Peel potatoes. Place in a bowl of cold water so they won’t turn brown.
2. When ready to prepare the latkas, drain the potatoes. Place potatoes and onions in a food processor fitted with a knife blade. Pulse until smooth. Drain mixture well.
3. Pour potato mixture into a large bowl. Add beaten eggs. Add salt and pepper. Add enough flour so the mixture holds together.
4. Pour 1 inch of oil into a large, deep frying pan. Heat oil over medium-high heat.
5. Carefully drop ¼ cup of the potato mixture into the hot oil.
6. Flatten the pancake slightly so the center will cook.
7. Fry for several minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.
8. Drain on paper towels.


Serving Suggestion: Serve with applesauce.


Yields: approximately 20 pancakes.


Also, take a look at the Five Tips for the Best Homemade Latkes!

Christmas customs, cookie recipe included!

Christmas 2014: December 25
The Christian holiday of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity and the foundation of its teachings. Christians hold Jesus to be the Son of God and the story of his birth is known as the Nativity.


Today, the holiday of Christmas is celebrated through a variety of customs including gift-giving, caroling, church celebrations and special meals, as well as through the display of decorations, including evergreen trees, lights, nativity scenes, mistletoe, and holly. Additionally, gifts are brought to children on Christmas morning by Santa Claus – a character who has his own story and traditions.


In the United States, it has become a familiar custom to leave cookies and milk out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve for him and his reindeer to nibble on when they deliver gifts. The popular spritz cookie is easy to make and can also be cut into recognizable Christmas shapes like evergreen trees, ornaments and wreaths.

Recipe for Spritz Butter Cookies



• 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup butter, softened
• 1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
• 2 egg yolks
• ½ teaspoon almond extract
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Sift together the flour and salt; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the egg yolks, almond extract and vanilla extract. Gradually blend in the sifted ingredients. Fill a cookie press with cookie dough and shoot cookies about 1/12 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. If you like, decorate with sugar or sprinkles at this time.
3. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven.


Yields: approximately 36 cookies.


Spritz Cookies Edit

Festival of the Birth of the Prophet

Milad un Nabi 2015: January 3

The Muslim holiday of Milad un Nabi (or Mawlid) is a celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. It is a public holiday in most Muslim countries, and is celebrated in different manners in different countries. The most common celebratory occurrence is a festival-like atmosphere that includes large street processions, and decorated homes and mosques. The tradition also involves distributing gifts and food to the poor.


A common dish during the celebration is a cooked flour dough often covered with butter and honey or date syrup. It is usually eaten by hand and without other complementary dishes.


Recipe Asida – Arabic Flour Pudding



• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups flour
• 4 ¼ cups water
• Honey or date syrup for serving
• Melted butter or ghee
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1.  Fill a deep pot with about 2 cups hot water.
  2.  Add the butter and a teaspoon of salt.
  3. Leave on medium heat until the water starts to boil.
  4. Sift the flour and then pour it into the pan all at once then remove the heat.
  5. Immediately start to stir the flour into the buttery water.
  6. Press the dough against the side of the side of the pot to remove lumps.
  7. Once the dough is smooth, with the help of the wooden spoon, form it into one lump.
  8. Put the pot back on the heat and add another 2 cups of hot water.
  9. Use the wooden spoon to form some hollows in the dough.
  10. Do not cover and leave to cook on low heat until the water is absorbed.
  11. Midway during this process, turn the lump upside down. It takes about 20 minutes to cook the dough.
  12. Remove from heat. Immediately begin kneading, using a wood spoon to smooth the asida.
  13. Melt about 5 tablespoons of butter or ghee, and use it to brush a wide, flat plate.
  14. Place the aside in the center and begin folding the edges to form a smooth dome. Once the edges are folded in, roll the aside to even out any cracks.
  15. Turn upside down and use a buttered ladle to form a hollow in the aside.
  16. Pour the melted butter or ghee around the aside.
  17. Pour honey or date syrup in the hollow.

Serve immediately.




A Celebration of Summer and Community

Over 350 people made their way down 72 feet of fabulous food at the Tri-Faith picnic at Temple Israel on August 17.  Rabbi Aryeh Azriel opened the picnic, inviting Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith leaders to offer prayers for peace. Rabbi Josh Brown, the Rev. Chris Alexander from Countryside Community Church, and Nizam Quassem from the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture brought prayers from the three faith traditions.

Tri-Faith Picnic August 17 2014 at Temple Israel


Farhan Khan cooked 240 halal hamburgers and 300 kosher hot dogs to feed the crowd estimated at 350-400.  We ran out of name tags at 300 and people kept coming, bringing a bounty of salads, ethnic dishes, fruits and desserts that filled 9 long tables.


Children played in the bounce house, had their faces painted by Omaha artist Jessica Kirk, and crowded around the snow cone machine for an icy treat on a hot afternoon.


People who hadn’t visited Temple Israel before took guided tours with Temple Program Director  Scott Littky.  For some Christians and Muslims, it was the first time they had ever been inside a synagogue.


Everywhere you looked, people were talking with new friends and old.  As Temple president Mike Halsted said “It’s great to see people so engaged”.


It was an afternoon to celebrate that not only is the Tri-Faith Initiative possible, it is happening.


Thanks to our corporate sponsors for the picnic:



Vic Gutman and Associates

Halal Transactions

Tri-Faith Family Picnic August 17

All supporters of the Tri-Faith Initiative are invited to the Tri-Faith picnic August 17 at Temple Israel on the Tri-Faith campus.

Not sure what to bring to share?  Try some of these ideas:

Fruit or fruit salad

Green salad

Pasta or rice salads (we’ll be outside so no mayo)

Cakes, cookies, brownies


Thank you Omaha!

We asked you to participate in OmahaGives! and you GAVE!  It was a record breaking year with 34,284 gifts made to 569 non-profits totaling $6,360,907.


There were 75 gifts to The Tri-Faith Initiative totaling $4775 plus a $1,000 check given early because the donor was going to be out of town during the drive. Generous gifts were also made to our faith partners, Temple Israel, the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska and the Dean Fricke Food Pantry, and the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture.


Omaha Gives is just another example of why Omaha is the place where the Tri-Faith Initiative can flourish.


Blessings to all those who gave during the 24 hour marathon, and the other donors who support us throughout the year.


Special thanks to the Omaha Community Foundation who organized the event and the many donors who provided matching funds and special prizes.


Omaha Gives! to benefit Tri-Faith

The Tri-Faith Initiative is participating once again in OmahaGives24!, a one-day charity challenge to encourage giving to Omaha non-profits.  This is chance to vote for your favorite causes by going on-line to

Using a sports format, the website will feature a “leader board” showing how much each organization has raised from on-line donations starting at 12:01 a.m. on May 21 and going until the stroke of midnight.

You can also track what is happening on Facebook and Twitter.  If you haven’t “liked” our pages yet, please do.  On Facebook go to and on Twitter follow trifaithomaha.

Interfaith Easter Egg Hunt

As part of the Tri-Faith Shared Holidays program, parents and children from Interplay, our program for children and youth, hid Easter eggs for the children of the Christian Ministries at Tri-Faith on Easter.  This is the third year Muslim and Jewish parents have joined the Christian parents to hide the eggs, and then all the children join in the hunt.

The egg hunt moved inside because of rain

As part of Interplay, children of the Abrahamic faiths learn about each others holidays, including Eid, Pesach (Passover), Christmas and more through sharing books, traditions and special foods from various cultures.

In past years, Christian and Jewish volunteers have handed out dates following Eid services of the AIISC, and Muslims and Christians were invited by Temple Israel to join the celebration of Sukkot.