Oren attends White House iftar dinner

NEW YORK (JTA) — Israeli U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren attended the annual White House dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Aug. 10 dinner was an "iftar,"  when observant Muslims break their daylight fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Along with Oren, envoys from some 35 nations with significant Muslim populations were present, as well as members of the American Muslim community.

In a note on Facebook, Oren noted that three years ago he was the first Israeli ambassador to attend the White House dinner and was "deeply honored."

"This time," Oren wrote, "in addition to the privilege, I felt at home. Around me sat representatives of the Muslim countries, many of whom are my acquaintances, as well as Ambassadors of Muslim countries, many of whom I consider to be my esteemed colleagues."

Oren added that he will be hosting his own iftar reception, which he said would be the first at the Israeli ambassador’s residence.

President Bill Clinton hosted the first iftar dinner at the White House, and his successors George W. Bush and Barack Obama have upheld the tradition.

In a speech given at the dinner, President Obama honored the contributions that Muslim Americans made to the country on Sept. 11, 2001 — as first responders, EMTs and nurses in the wake of the terrorist attacks — and since then, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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