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To celebrate Ramadan, this Kansas City nonprofit is hosting free communal dinners

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A group of seven smiling people gather around a table covered in food.
Dialogue Institute of Kansas City Facebook page
In addition to hosting community fast-breaking dinners, called iftars, the Dialogue Institute also organizes pre-dawn meals held at volunteers' homes.

It's Ramadan, one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar. The Dialogue Institute, a local nonprofit, has partnered with 33 different organizations to hold community fast-breaking dinners, called iftars.

For many Muslims, both here in the United States and worldwide, Ramadan is observed by periods of fasting, praying and gathering for communal meals.

"Ramadan is like 30 days of back-to-back Thanksgiving dinners," Eyyup Esen, director of a local nonprofit called the Dialogue Institute, said on Up To Date Monday. "It's the month of unity and compassion, a time when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset."

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. Esen said the practice helps Muslims cultivate compassion for others.

"It's a chance for us to understand the less fortunate ones around us and to feel empathy. I often say, to feel empathy for the homeless man on the Plaza," he said.

The Dialogue Institute is a volunteer-led organization that promotes understanding and respect between people of different faiths.

This Ramadan, the institute partnered with 33 organizations to hold community fast-breaking dinners, called iftars.

If you're interested in attending one of the Institute's free, inter-faith iftar meals, you can sign up online.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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