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Muslims Holy Month of Ramadan Will Be Very Different in Era of COVID-19

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The world’s 1.8 billion Muslims face the first Ramadan in recent memory under lockdown, curfews and other restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The holy month that begins April 24 and goes to May 23 is marked by daily fasting between dawn and dusk, followed normally by communal prayer at their local houses of worship just before sunset.

The prayer to break the fast, Maghreb, is at sunset and is followed by a communal meal, Iftar, provided by the mosque but also includes food that people have prepared and brought from home, like a potluck.

Each night of Ramadan, in a special prayer service called Tarawih, a portion of the Holy Quran is recited by a specialist, the Hafiz e-Quran, and by the end of the month, all 30 sections, or juz, of the Quran will have been heard.

“Muslims like to gather and pray together and be close to God” during Ramadan said Dhaifallah Mo., public relations officer for the Bay Area branch of the Yemeni American Association. “But the information we have so far is stay at home. We must do what is best for our community.”

Instead of the convivial gathering she’s accustomed to, Islamic activist Moina Shaiq  will be at home in Fremont with her husband, Mohammad.  Shaiq thinks that the restrictions of this year’s Ramadan may actually enhance the experience. “As Muslims, we follow the teachings and doings of Mohammad. In his time, he would pray at the mosque two nights and pray at home for one (during Ramadan).

“We have huge spreads of food now, but that wasn’t how it was done in his time. We get to go back to the origins, the roots of faith in its spirit and celebrate as such.”

She seemed most concerned about not being able to hear the recitation of the Holy Quran, as neither she nor her husband have memorized it.

“There’s nobody in my house who can do that,” she said. But they have been advised that in their homes someone can read a portion from the Quran as a substitute.

In many countries, mosques have been closed for weeks. Iran, grappling with at least 67,000 COVID-19 sufferers and 4,000 deaths, may bar all Ramadan gatherings.  In Egypt, all Ramadan activities including group iftars and Zakah tables are banned.

Zakah are offerings for the needy – sometimes it’s a meal, or other donation but they are usually given personally. The threat of the virus presents a challenge to the customary ways the faithful ordinarily fulfill one of the pillars of Islam, which is charity amnd is required during Ramadan.

Dhaifallah Mo says members of the Yemeni American Association have already been distributing water and hand sanitizer to the needy and unhoused in the Bay Area and will step up their work during the holy period. And Saba Poultry, with stores in Oakland and San Francisco, are members of the association, began donating free chicken and/or eggs to local health workers, police and other first responders and will continue to do so until April 30, or when the order is lifted.

Also, common communal celebration is the last day of Ramadan, called Eid. During the month leading up to that day, markets sell regional wares that support the holiday: clothing, specialty foods, and in Egypt, lamps.

The restrictions have an impact on local economies, especially those at the lowest end.

“People are suffering because so many businesses are closed right now,” said Shaiq.

But unlike some church communities in California and other areas of the U.S. that have chafed at the shelter-in place orders on grounds of religious and personal freedom, sources for this story have uniformly invoked the advice of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad.

“Obey Allah, obey the Messenger (Mohammad) and obey those with authority amongst you,” quoted Imam Faheem Shuaibe of Masjidul Waritheen in Oakland. “There’s nothing I see that is against our religion. There’s nothing to protest, for a Muslim.

“This is a really a reclusive, meditative, prayerful time,” Shaibe continued. “This should not be an unsettling time for Muslims.”

Shaiq invoked the time of the Prophet when there had been a plague. “Caliphs at the time of Mohammad told people to stay at home – ‘let no one into cities and let no one out.’ People know that  this (sheltering in place) is in line with our faith.”

  

Bay Area

Rosie the Riveter Trust to Celebrate History, ‘We Can Do It!’ Spirit

Tribute to storyteller and park ranger Betty Reid Soskin marking her 100th birthday

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Betty Reid Soskin/Wikimedia Commons

The Rosie the Riveter Trust is celebrating the history of the World War II home front at a September 26 gala, Making History Together. The fundraiser will highlight programs supported by the trust in collaboration with Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park: Every Kid Outdoors, Rosie’s Service Corps, and a documentary about the park’s Rosie Ambassadors, currently in production.

“We have a gem of a national park located right here in Richmond, California, where visitors can come learn about the home front and hear stories told in first person. This includes women and men who worked in the Kaiser shipyards, as well as those who spent years in the internment camps during the war,” said Sarah Pritchard, executive director of Rosie the Riveter Trust. “The history of the home front and societal changes that transpired during World War II are important lessons to preserve and share.”

The gala will also include a special tribute to Betty Reid Soskin, who turns 100 in September. Soskin helped establish the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, later joining the National Park Service and becoming the oldest ranger in the national park system at 85. 

Soskin’s programs at the park’s visitor center have captivated audiences since the center opened in May 2012. During her presentations, she shares her own experiences as a young woman of color during a time when segregation and discrimination were common, adding dimension to the stories of the home front too often left out of the history books. “What gets remembered is determined by who is in the room doing the remembering,” says Soskin in her 2019 film, “No Time to Waste.”

The gala will be held at the historic Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South (next to the park’s visitor center on the Richmond waterfront). The Craneway, which boasts a fabulous view of San Francisco, is the former Ford Assembly Plant where some 49,000 tanks and jeeps were assembled during the home front era. 

While individual tickets to the in-person event sold out on August 1, tickets to view the live-streamed event are still available. The event begins at 5:00 p.m., followed by a tribute to Soskin, highlights of the trust’s programs, a live auction, a Zoom afterparty, and entertainment.

Major event sponsors include the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Kaiser Permanente, The Marguerite Fund, Chevron Richmond Refinery, Accenture, Bank of Labor, California State Pipe Trades Council, Microsoft Corp., The Honorable Barry Goode, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, IBEW Local 302, IBEW Local Union 595, and Marathon Petroleum. Event sponsorships are available beginning at $1,000.

Rosie the Riveter Trust is the official partner of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, founded in 2000 in Richmond, California. The Park chronicles the explosive growth of wartime industry, the innovations fostered by visionaries like Henry J. Kaiser, and the extraordinary history of people who were challenged as never before and came together to overcome wartime odds with the “We Can Do It!” spirit.

Event proceeds support expansion of educational programs for all ages and preservation of historical resources for the Bay Area and the nation.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the trust’s web site at www.rosietheriveter.org. For sponsorships, contact Executive Director Sarah Pritchard, at 510-507-2276, or by email at sarah@rosietheriveter.org.

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Bay Area

Sept. 11, 2001, 20 years later: ‘Remembrance’ held aboard the USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

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U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment: Sgt. Tristan Garivay, Sgt. Michael Her, Cpl. Adrian Chavez and Cpl. Quentavious Leeks. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, Commanding Officer, 23rd Marine Regiment. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

The ceremony recognized the impact and consequences of the series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks committed on 2001 by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Queda against targets in New York City and Wash., D.C. Nearly 3,000 people died that day and 6,000 were injured.  This was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in U.S. history. 

The ceremony aboard the USS Hornet began with the presentation of the colors by the U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment. (Pictured above.)

Leon Watkins, co-founder of The Walking Ghosts of Black History, was the Master of Ceremonies. He spoke about the extensive death and destruction which triggered the enormous U.S. effort to combat terrorism.

Daniel Costin, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke of the lasting impact of 9/11 terrorists attack on first responders. He recounted incidents where first responders rushed into the scenes of the attacks, many at the sacrifice of their own lives. More than 400 police officers and firefighters were killed that day: 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and 71 members of their law enforcement agencies.

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, commanding officer of the 23rd Marine Regiment, spoke about the recovery efforts at the Pentagon following the terrorists’ attack where 125 people perished. He reflected on the actions of three first responders who recovered the U.S. Marine Corps flag from the commandant of the Marine Corps’ office at the Pentagon. This flag was still standing after the attack. It was a symbol of America’s resolve.

At the end of the formal presentations, the Marine Corps Wreath Bearers went to the fantail of the Hornet. After the playing of ‘Taps,’ they tossed a wreath into the San Francisco Bay to give final honors.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Bay Area

New Assemblymember Mia Bonta to Caucus With 3 Legislative Groups

The 18th Assembly District includes a large portion of the city of Oakland and the cities of Alameda and San Leandro. Bonta was elected in a special election on August 31, defeating fellow Democrat Janani Ramachandra.

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Assemblymember Mia Bonta, (third from left), with (left to right) Senator Steve Bradford, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurman, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, assemblymembers Isaac Bryan Reggie Jones-Sawyer, and Kevin McCarty.

Soon after Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) was sworn in last week to represent California’s 18th Assembly District — which covers parts of East Bay — she signed on as a member of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus (CLWC), the California Latino Legislative Caucus (CLLC), and the California Black Legislative Caucus (CLBC).

Bonta is the 11th member of the Black Caucus and the only lawmaker representing a district in the Bay Area. In the Latino Caucus, she is the 30th member, and out of 120 lawmakers in both houses of the state Legislature, she is the 39th woman.

“Special congratulations to our newest member @MiaBonta, who was sworn into the Assembly this morning! #AD18 has chosen a fantastically fearless representative, and I look forward to working with you Assemblymember Bonta! #CALeg,” wrote Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D- San Diego).

Mialisa “Mia” Tania Bonta, who is Puerto Rican of African descent, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1993 and a Master of Education (Ed.M.) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1996. Bonta also received a J.D. from Yale University Law School in 1999.

Her work experience includes over 20 years working with nonprofits, including serving as CEO of Oakland Promise, a college and career prep program for Alameda County high school students.  She was also president of the Alameda Unified School District Board from 2018 to 2021.

“Congratulations to @MiaBonta on her election to the Assembly, which not only made her the first Afro Latina in the Legislature, but also raised the number of women in the Legislature to an all-time high,” California Lt. Gov., Eleni Kounalakis stated on Twitter.

The 18th Assembly District includes a large portion of the city of Oakland and the cities of Alameda and San Leandro. Bonta was elected in a special election on August 31, defeating fellow Democrat Janani Ramachandra.

“I am deeply honored to represent the 18th Assembly District. Our district has a long history of bold, progressive, leadership and I plan to continue this work in our diverse district,” Bonta tweeted September 7. “I’m ready to fight for bold solutions to issues like homelessness, housing affordability, climate change, and criminal justice reform for AD-18 and all Californians. I am ready to get to work.”

Bonta steps in to replace her husband, Rob Bonta, who vacated the AD 18th seat in April after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed him California Attorney General, replacing Xavier Becerra, who is now United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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